His room smells like her youngest uncle’s room in her grandmother’s house where all her biological family lived crammed in three bedrooms, sharing a single bathroom.  Sweaty musk embedded in fibers of bedding, carpet, and worn clothes.  No female neutralization in his room.  No balance.  You could smell the maleness even in the clean clothes if you took in the air long and slow.  The smell of inattention to the outside and the kind of comfort that allows one to stagnate.

His room is a sanctuary.  His sanctuary.  Not hers.  Records.  Books of art and music.  Star Wars toys.  Instruments. A desk, light table, and drawing supplies.  He has hijacked her grandmother’s petrified wood she had made into book ends.  Those are hers.  Used bath towels hang on his windows from curtainless rods.  She pulls them down to wash.  Strips crimson sheets from his bed that have been slept on too long.  She used to sleep on those sheets too.  Not now.  Not regularly.  Not anymore.  She takes the bundle from the room.  It isn’t her place to be.  Isn’t her bed.  She doesn’t have a bed.

Seven years ago, she found herself unable to kiss him.  Perhaps touching lips weren’t necessary anymore for love, for physical intimacy after eighteen years of kissing.  Needs met other ways.  The breathing of his deep sleep through the night reminding her that she was still awake and could not find rest.  The breathing grew as irritating as a fly buzzing her ear.  Then, her pain came.  She could no longer lie flat.  Her arms and hips weighted and throbbing.  Unable to stay in bed, she found herself drowning in routine and sleepless nights.  She left the bed.

Three years now, her bed has been the loveseat.  Her pillow and quilt a part of the living room decor.  Scratching house cats and the vibration of the fish tank filter keep her awake and resentful now.  And the pain.  The pain exhausts beyond muscle and bone to soul.  Makes her financially dependent, like a child.  She pulls weight for no paycheck.  Keeps house.  Cooks. Turns his dirty socks and underpants right side out to wash.  Writes in hope of one day publishing a book.  It wasn’t terrible.  None of her grandparents had shared a bed.  Her mother and stepfather don’t share a bed.

Desire, like fire, sometimes wells up where she feels dead.  Middle age allowing her to gradually own her body for what it is and not what it should be.  She channels it to fuel her words.  To pray with her whole body on a yoga mat, rooting and growing.  Impulse cannot always be transformed.  Sometimes it rests as sadness in her heart, her stomach… her pelvis.  After twenty-five years, children, she’s grown up without ever being a child.  Open and vulnerable.  Desire doesn’t burn situational.  Not now.  Not regularly.  Not anymore.

Her room is an office.  Her personal yoga studio.  A sanctuary.  Hers.  Incense burns on an altar to nothing in particular, but everything that is Source.  Scribbles clutter her desk in loose pages, notebooks, and bound journals.  Her books arranged by subject matter and canons of literature.  Sun pours through curtainless windows facing east.  And there, she moves and writes to alchemize the pain.  To neutralize the yearning of a youth not experienced.  Youth found in middle age brings discomfort.  There in her office and discipline, the slosh of laundry, his laundry, in the next room, she wishes herself worthy, or for the body and heart of an ascetic.