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There has always been an urge in me to find my fortress of solitude wherever I have landed.
As a child, it was on top of a rock down a gully towards the creek in our backyard. The trees surrounding the rock permitted just enough space for a stream of sunlight to break through and spotlight directly on the rock. I believed that when I sat on the rock I was invisible to everything except for G-d. It was my direct contact with G-d and protection from the world. I would sit there for hours, daydreaming, reading, drawing, playing barbies etc. Occasionally I fell asleep there until the sunlight stretched itself out of range and I could hear my mother calling me back to the house.
When we moved to Germany, my bedroom balcony became my fortress. It was a shared balcony with my sister’s room. She never came outside to use the balcony, so I claimed it as my own and remained unchallenged for the duration. The balcony looked out onto our small sloped garden and a wild hill. At the top of the hill was a nursing home with balconies for residents. Sometimes one of these older people would wave if I looked their way. It always seemed to me that they were angels looking down to see what was happening in the world. They appeared other-worldly and therefore did not feel like an interruption to my solitude, but rather an integral part of it like the sky or a ceiling of protection.
Returning to the USA, we moved back into the house we left. I had a room to myself by then because my sister left for college. The rock I left behind was now covered with overgrown woodland plants. The trees were much larger and unable to allow space for the sunlight to pass through onto the same spot as before. My fortress relocated to the now massively overgrown willow tree at the top of the gully’s entrance. I kissed a boyfriend there once and felt sad that I had breached my fortress’s solitude. Of course, I enjoyed the activity. What I did not enjoy was having opened the space to someone who clearly did not have the same reverence.
Moving on to college, I lost my ability to establish a space for myself. Everything was geared towards this forced temporary instantly intimate community at all times in all places and all spaces. It was too much for me and I believe was a pivotal point in my health, due in part to the lack of solitude.
I developed my own portable fortresses. Headphones, disc player, books, weight, etc to now phone, earbuds, laptop, books, foldable sport chair with cover! Anything to help me disappear.
Events in my childhood, and adulthood propelled me to have this drive. I’m sure that a few of you can guess those kinds of events: sensory sensitivities, molestation, rape, emotional abuse, blah blah blah, hotel stalker tried to purchase me as a bride when I was 12 (the stories of so many of us).
Exploring how to carve out healthy spaces for myself is another area that matches with my boundary works.
My foldable chair with lid is blue – like the frozen tundra of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. I like it and register your surprise at that, if you know me and know that I detest blue furniture for myself. But this isn’t real furniture. Plus, FORTRESS of SOLITUDE. Well, it’s more of a safety blanket, really. So, I should call it “Linus’s Friend” instead. Nope, that does not have the same impact, even though I love Linus. Superman for the win!
When you see me with my chair at the pool, park, games, concerts, etc it does not mean that I do not want to engage with you. I like you (except Green Lantern)! It gives me a defined space to be, that’s all. I am a work in progress using the tools I have available to me and I like having something in common with a superhero, even if he is the enemy of Mr. Batman.
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo