I live in a one-bedroom apartment over a barbershop near my ex-farm, where my ex-horses reside with my ex-wife.
The bedroom is for the Little Girl. I sleep in the living room, and no matter how many Ikea pillows I've used to make the bed look like a couch, female visitors have never sat there.
The whole thing looks like an arrangement for an elderly relative: Uncle Vito has to sleep close to the bathroom because he may not make it in there every night.
The bed-in-the-living room thing is really not so bad. The true problem is creeping girl encroachment. Aside from my humble sleeping nook, the rest of the apartment appears as though Barbie, Dora, and Hannah Montana had a call-the-cops kind of rowdy party, then never cleaned up.
It looks like I rent from a 7-year-old.
Here is the question: If a man has no bedroom, and awakens each day amidst a first-grader's scattered fluff, stuff and pink-and-purple detritus, can he ever truly be king of his (Disney) castle?
To shave, I must move aside Hello Kitty tooth-brushing accoutrement. To shower, I have to evict an armada of bath toys temporarily dyed green or red by the Crayola bath-coloring tablets my kid uses. Our toaster plays a waltz from a Cinderella movie, and stamps each slice of bread with a princess crown.
Perhaps I'm a tad indulgent of the child – divorce guilt, and all that. And truth be told, I have the power to mark the place as singularly my own whenever I want. So why don't I?
One epiphanic morning, it hit me: I really like the girl things. What's more, I really need them. Man caves, I've had. Bachelor apartments, I've done. But a place that reminds me of the Little Girl on the three or four nights per week that she's not there – well, that's home.
I'm not saying it couldn't stand to be picked up once in a while. But I won't be dismantling the pink tent in the kitchen where my daughter keeps her Princess Band-Aids any time soon.