Maggie was napping with me. "Do you have to share this bed with Grandpa?" she asked. She is about to have a room of her own, the first that she doesn't share with her sister. She is very interested in who has to share and who doesn't?
My sister, a year younger than myself, was my roommate during our growing up years and that lasted until a few months after I graduated from high school. We did almost everything together so we were happy with the arrangement. We had our arguments, many of them because she wanted me to keep my clothes picked up. She considered having a clean room much more important than I did. I remember our discussing the fact that we never had arguments with our friends. We decided it was because we could argue with one another and always know we would still be friends afterward but couldn't guarantee that with anyone else. We got any feistiness out of our systems in the safety of our own home. The same held true for sharing secrets. We trusted one another completely.
No heat was pumped upstairs by the furnace so in the winter our room got quite cold. Having someone sharing the bed made it seem warmer than it might have been. There was a register in the floor that opened to the room beneath it. The only heat we got was what came up from that room. But we liked the register because we were in control of it. We could shut it when we didn't want our parents to know we were still talking when we should have been asleep. And we could open it when they had card club. We would get down on the floor and listen to what they were talking about. I can't remember ever hearing anything fascinating or particularly interesting but just being able to listen without their knowing we were listening was an adventure for us.
The only light in our room was a fixture in the ceiling with a pull string hanging from it. We had a rule. The last one in bed had to turn off the light. Sometimes we would cheat and whoever got upstairs first would climb into bed and undress and put on pajamas while under the covers. It saved being the one having to turn off the light. Who had to turn off the light was never a source of argument, just a contests of sorts that we liked. Other times we would be getting ready for bed at the same time and then we would both dive for the bed at the same time making it unclear who had been the last one in. On one such night I grabbed her pillow and threw it across the room challenging, "If you go get your pillow you are the last one in." She stood up on the bed and tried to get my pillow but I hung on tight. She turned and jumped down to fetch her own pillow. Dad heard the loud thump and called up the stairway, "What is going on up there? You are supposed to be in bed."
"Nothing," my sister answered, "I just dropped my pillow." Chances are dad didn't say anything more because he wouldn't want us to know he was laughing. It took about 15 minutes of trying to smother our own giggles in our pillows before we settled down to go to sleep. She turned out the light that night.
I suppose when our older sisters left home we could have each had a room of our own, but we stayed where we were. We liked being roommates. We not only shared our room, we shared our social life. Our brother took turns driving one of us and our friends to out of town basketball games. When it was my turn, I included my sister as one of my friends and she did the same for me. I had very few dates during high school that didn't include her. We double dated all the time. I have always been better friends with her than with either of my older sisters. And I believe they had a closer relationship with one another than with either of us. I notice this, too, with my own children. The ones who shared rooms are still best buddies. Sharing a room may have proved to be a bonding experience.
Maggie will get a room of her own when their current house remodel is finished. The room will have adequate heat so another body in bed may not seem as necessary for her as it did for us. Then again, maybe she will be missing out on something. We can only hope she and her sisters will find other ways to bond. As for me, I am happy my roommate during the first 17 years of my life became my lifelong best friend. Does sharing a room get any credit for that? Maybe.