One of the hardest things for me about living in an apartment is that I don’t have my own space. In Cleveland, I had a whole attic. True it was cold in the winter, space heaters required, but it was mine. I could go up there, close the door and be alone. Alone with my books. Alone with my thoughts. Alone to meditate. To write. Sometimes, if I could swing it, I’d even take a nap. We had an extra twin bed up there. That no-frills attic was heaven.
When I was growing up, there was no quiet, peaceful space for me in the house. The TV was on every waking hour. I shared a room with my sister. Our brother had to walk through our room to get to his. It was a small house.
But we had a dilapidated detached garage, kind of like a barn. It had barn type doors. The back of the garage had a little shed-like room. I made it mine. The windows were covered with years of grime. I wiped them as best I could. There were shelves, made of cheap panel. The floor was uneven concrete, with deep cracks running through it. It had the greasy feel of an old mechanic’s supply shed. Once I got it “fixed up” I referred to this back room of the garage as my fort. I had a cot. And a plaid wool blanket & a pillow. I would go out there with a good book, and a snack. A bologna & American cheese sandwich with mayo, on a Roma’s Italian bread roll, (and a glass of Coke, if I was lucky).
My own little space.
That’s all I’ve ever needed.
In my shed, I could stare at the grimy window and notice the sun glinting through, and go somewhere else. I could follow single drops of rain on the window, watching them make their way down, over and over. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was meditating.
A visceral letting down of the angst of everyday life happens as soon as I am quietly alone. It’s like taking off a bra, or tight shoes at the end of a long work day. Nothing is needed from me, for a moment. Without some sort of quiet time, without meditation time, I am not my best. Too long without it and everything/everyone gets on my last nerve. I need to write. I need to meditate. I need some quiet. I used to feel kind of prissy to need these things. Not anymore. I accept it as part of who I am. I come back to my loved ones better for it.
I thought it would be okay living in an apartment, because there is a conference room I can go to, to get writing done. But the conference room has air fresheners that spout off every so often and they feel toxic to me. I get a headache sitting too long in that.
I thought I could go to the rooftop terrace, but (poor me) it is so sunny and bright here in Florida. Often, I can’t even see my computer screen if I want to write. And it is too windy some days, and too hot others.
Yesterday I snuck off to the library for solitude and procured a study room. Two doors down it was mommies and small kids, making a ruckus. No peace & quiet at the library.
My children are on winter break. Presently, my son is in his room, headphones on, “rapping” loudly, thinking no one can hear him. My daughter is singing her chorus songs in the bathroom as she prepares for her day.
Our bedroom is out, because HT needs it during the day.
Where there is a will there is a way, and I can’t entirely blame lack of my own space for not coming up with a plan for writing, but it isn’t easy. Right now I’m at the kitchen table. Kids and dogs are in and out, interruptions are constant.
When I hit “publish” on the first post I did recently, after not writing on my personal blog for two years, I felt a huge sigh of relief. That feeling of letting down, after being constricted.
It sounds kind of corny, but in my own head I actually heard the words, “There she is.”
We thought about buying a house this year, but realistically we are not there yet. (Thank you Big Banks for the housing crisis. It was swell selling at the bottom of the bubble in Cleveland).
If we do ever buy a house again, it will likely be a small one. But a space just for me is a must. Even if I have to get a she-shed. Actually, a she-shed would be a dream come true.
I guess you could say, I kind of invented it.