Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Castle Kleefeld

When I was growing up, I live with my parents, not surprisingly. For most of my childhood, I had my own room where I could close the door and totally lose myself in a comic book world. Resting on the floor of my closet, under my good shirts and pants that were hanging up, was my meager comic book collection. I would pull it out to read and re-read on my bed. The rest of the house was sort of like public property for the family so, while I could go into the living room or the kitchen or the basement to read, my room was were I could close the door.

Throughout college, I moved through a series of dwellings, thanks in no small part to the internship program which had all the students in my program on an alternating school/work schedule. We'd take classes for three months, and then work for three months, and then take classes for three months, and then work for three months. (And so on.) Because I ended up moving relatively frequently, I tried to keep things pretty light (at one point, I literally had everything I was going to live with for the next three months, including furniture, packed into a Ford Escort) so I left most of my comics at my folks' house.

Once I graduated and got a permanent job, I moved into an apartment that was intended to be more permanent. I made a point of removing ALL of my stuff out of my parents' place as quickly as I could, I think, largely to prove some semblance of independence to myself. My first apartment was decidedly my place (my girlfriend at the time was still finishing school and lived a few hours away) and I was able to designate a section towards my comic books. More significantly, the entire apartment was mine, so I could sit at the kitchen table, or in front of the TV, or on my bed and read my comics without fear of being distracted or interrupted.

Not quite 20 years later, I have a house of my own. I have an entire "room" for my comic book collection. My home office is a little larger than the bedroom I had as a kid, and there's currently a stack of 30-40 comics sitting here that I need to catalog before I file them away. I've got a couple graphic novels sitting on the nightstand next to my bed in the other room, one recently finished, one partially so. In the living room downstairs, I've got a stack of Tom Strong I'm working my way through sitting on the coffee table. On another end table is Habibi, still daring me to start it. The kitchen table has a small stack of books that I'm using as research.

I've been thinking about homes lately for some reason. I catch myself, on occasion, lying in bed listening to the rain pounding on the roof, or the wind howling past the windows; I think about what a fantastic thing a home is. There's the basic notion of shelter, obviously, but my home means I can keep stuff that's mine. I can set down a comic book, and it will still be there tomorrow in exactly the same state that I left it. No one is going to find it and run off with it, and there won't be any natural elements trying to inflict their entropy on it. My home not only protects me, but also my stuff. Which means, in turn, I can accumulate wealth. I can obtain items of value and ensure that they remain in my possession; my copy of Fantastic Four #1 is going to remain my copy until I decide that I want to be rid of it.

George Carlin used to do a great routine about stuff, largely playing American consumerism for laughs. I heartily agree that we shouldn't collectively buy as much stuff as we do, and far too much of what we do buy gets discarded carelessly. But I'm not about to suggest we get all back-to-nature/live-in-a-commune-and-only-eat-what-you-grow. But for the stuff we do get, whether its a necessity like food or a luxury like comics, I think being able to keep it intact and usable just by way of leaving it in your home is remarkable.

I could try to put in some message about helping the homeless this holiday season and, while that's a laudable cause, that's honestly not where my head was. I don't really have any particular suggestions for that, if it's something you'd like to pursue. I guess I'm just thinking about how lucky I am to have my own home, where I can shelter myself from the elements and store food and bathe and not have to worry about personally holding every item in possession, lest someone take it from me. I'm thinking out loud here about just how much I appreciate the walls that encircle my stuff and protect it while I'm at work or out of town. I'm thinking how much I really understand and appreciate the old "a man's home is his castle" adage right now.

Maybe my comics room isn't the super-comfortable, but still stylish library/sanctuary I'd like it to be. Maybe I don't have an ideal space for reading or researching comics. Maybe my workspace isn't particularly well-suited having a lot of research material at the ready while I'm writing. But, you know, it's still my home, and that's pretty darned awesome all by itself.

1 comment:

Tim Stroup said...

You only have ONE comic book room. Oh I wish that is all I had.