Everyone knows what a man cave should look like (stereotypically speaking)—a giant flat screen TV with huge speakers; a blackout curtain so all the better to see the giant TV; an ear-shattering stereo system; an assortment of posters, usually football or basketball; a plush, enveloping recliner with holes in the arms for beverages; a small frig to keep the beverages ice-cold and maybe a neon sign, either for a certain university or that certain beverage, a can of which fits in the aforementioned chair arm holes.
How many of us, though, know what a woman cave looks like? Are there woman caves? Early feminists like Kate Chopin or Virginia Wolff told us to get one, this room or small apartment of one’s own but how many of us have one? And what goes in it once we have one?
I recently visited my friend Misty in her own apartment blocks from where her ex-husband and sons live. One room hold bunk beds for the boys’ visits, a dresser, a table for this-and-that’s, and a box half the size of a refrigerator filled with books lying as they landed when they were tossed.
One room was Misty’s bedroom where I never ventured as it was a private space.
The living space was enough to give me an idea, however, of what a woman cave, a space designated for one woman and her honored friends, looks like.
In front of the bay window were two lime-green fainting couches adorned with floral pillows and warm rust and rose throws. Between them was a small stand upon which resided a potted palm reaching almost to the top of the windows. Books on the stand invited reading should the reclining person wish. A fern hung in the window to the left.
Further in the room was another seating area, two sleek, modern-style armchairs facing an orangy-brown love seat with an antique coffee table in between. The table intrigued me because on either end at the top was a small repository topped by a door with a black knob. These spaces were big enough for a small book or innumerable small treasures which, indeed, were inside when I looked. Between the two covered receptacles lay the glass top upon which were written words and phrases in wax of some kind, maybe crayon; words of hope for women looking for new jobs in our jobless economy. Also on this glass shelf sat the book, Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd. Under the glass top lay another shelf full of women’s magazines, flowers adorning every cover.
The loveseat was covered in more throws and pillows, as were the two armchairs. On the wall to the left hung two pieces of wall art made by Misty out of handmade paper, painted bamboo from her garden, and buttons. A dark wood mask hung between them. Under them sat the stereo and two small speakers. There is no TV in this home. The stereo was covered by a hand-embroidered table scarf and three candles.
Further down the room lay the creative areas. The kitchen table was full of jewelry making supplies—old and new beads of all sizes, shapes, and colors, chains, clasps, earring hooks, feathers, rocks, buttons, old jewelry pieces yet to be broken down, wires and implements to break apart old pieces and to join her creative pieces. All along the kitchen counter lay these interesting and intriguing items and bits that had caught her artist’s eye.
On the back wall above a bookcase hung a small mirror bordered by mosaic work. Surrounding that frame were a series of small paintings of people and women in mostly neon-vivid colors. On top of the bookcase were receptacles holding Misty’s natural finds: rocks, shells, feathers. These little “nests” so fun to peek in were to be found all over her home, in fact.
Her writer’s desk sat next to a sunny window where natural light can beam down on her musings. Scattered papers lined the top of this desk, along with various books, such as Writing Your Screenplay and an advertisement announcing, “ Winter 2009 Screenwriting Class.” This is where Misty does her writer’s work—the articles she writes for money and the fiction she writes for her soul.
This, then, is a woman’s cave: intriguing, pretty, wood and earth and things from nature. A place where things are created from the old to make the new. A place where thought becomes word. A place that invites other women to repose, revive, and collect themselves, to sink into comfort, wonder, and beauty before venturing back into the fast-paced, complex world. A place of peace.