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My Room: A Sanctuary Turned Nightmare

Edson Garcia De Sousa

In the past, my room used to be a place I could hide from the outside world. It was a place where I could rest my head and not have to worry about anything. I would only go into my room at the end of a long day of school or work. However, with COVID, my feelings for my room significantly changed. It went from being my haven to the place that I least wanted to be. The sentiments I have for my room thus went through a transformation, from making me feel accepted and calm to now making me frustrated and angry. Changes were attempted along the way to revert my room to what it once was, with a slight light of hope at the end of the tunnel.

Pre-COVID, I had a very hectic lifestyle. I would start my days early, at 6:00 a.m., get ready for school, commute for an hour, and arrive at UMass Boston at 8:00 a.m. I would take classes and study until 9:00 p.m., arriving at my house at 10:00 p.m. All studying and homework were done between my classes, with my house being a space to relax. On the weekends, I would work from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Once I got home and parked my car, I would walk to the entrance of the building I currently live in.

This building is five stories tall, with a total of 30 units. The outside is made of little red bricks, and all the residents have a little patio. Once you make your way through the entrance, the elevator is right in front of you, with my specific unit being on the fifth floor. Once I exit the elevator, I turn left, and Apartment 30, my home, is mere steps away. I open the door and enter into a little area where I remove my shoes. I live with my aunt, and her home is relatively small. It’s two rooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom. Given that I am 6’3”, I sometimes scratch my knuckles on the ceiling when I am not paying attention. Moving my way into the living room, I take a right and enter my room.

My room has a twin XL bed in one corner, a long white desk in the other corner, a shoe rack in the other, and a tiny closet for me to put my clothes. My desk has a monitor and all my books and school supplies. I used to love arriving from a long day’s work and just putting all my stuff in my closet and laying on my bed. Sitting on my desk was also very pleasurable. I loved sitting on my newly bought gaming chair, just playing games or watching some Netflix. Just being in this silent room with the door closed brought me pure peace. There was no thought about school. No thinking about work. I was isolated from the world, and the four walls in this room removed me from all my worries. This room had the ability to calm me down. Being here was a sign that my day was reaching its end and that I had accomplished all that I had set for myself. Within these walls, I was not lying in a mere bed or sitting at a desk. I was relaxing at a five-star hotel and allowed myself to run away not only from the world but also from myself. However, that soon changed.

With COVID, life turned upside down. I no longer had to wake up early every morning. I could wake up ten minutes before class. Work was put at a halt. My entire life was now within these four walls. In theory, that was great. I could now live in my sanctuary forever and not have to leave this space. However, my paradise soon turned into a hell on earth.

My desk that was dedicated to gaming and Netflix quickly became my entire college experience. I would study, take classes, take exams, and work all from this desk. Those long days spent at school were now spent at this desk. It no longer comforted me. My bed, which was used solely for sleeping, was now often used as my seat for watching lectures. My room had now turned into UMass Boston. I could not escape it. Once my day reached its end, I could not separate myself from the outside world. My problems and duties had become intertwined with my safe space, with the outer overwhelming my area of relaxation. Within these walls, I was met with the feelings that were reserved for school and work. Just being in this room caused me to want to escape. I wanted to run. I wanted to change this place. I no longer wanted to be within these walls.

Given these feelings, I often found myself escaping this room. I would try and study in the living room, which did not work given that my aunt loves watching her telenovelas at max volume. I started going on daily runs. But due to New England weather, winter showed up and ruined those plans. I started going out to coffee shops, which worked very well. The coffee shop allowed me to divide my world, as it became my school and my house again became my relaxation area. However, coffee shops quickly closed due to COVID and I couldn’t keep buying coffee every day. Running away was not an option. So instead, I had to confront my room. During Christmas, I decorated my room from head-to-toe. My room looked like Santa’s workshop. Just looking at my little Christmas tree in the corner of my room filled me with joy during my long days. I started lighting candles and using diffusers, changing the atmosphere, and using smell therapy to change my emotions. Smelling my Bath and Body Works-scented eucalyptus candle meant that it was relaxing time and not study time. I also limited myself to watching lectures at my desk and not my bed. When I was at my desk, those four walls kept me at school. However, when I was in my bed, those walls shifted into my relaxing space, and I could once again run away from the outside world.

My room definitely has a strong effect on me. What once brought me joy was, for a moment, my worst enemy. My room was a way to escape from the outside world and gave me pure peace. With COVID, that feeling changed, and my room became my whole life. The outside world was now inside these four walls, bringing with it the problems, work, and obligations that were previously reserved for outside those four walls. When escaping did not work, I had to cope and make changes. With these changes, I was able to create division within my room. Specific changes and use of smells helped create times where the room was my school/work and when it was once again my sanctuary. This room that was once merely my space to relax became my entire world. Thankfully, I encountered ways to create divisions within these walls, and now my room affects me in both negative and positive ways. My room may never go back to being the paradise it once was, but it will always be the place where I can escape from reality, if only for a mere couple of minutes.

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