Eight years ago I moved into my current bedroom. It was small, but sufficient, even cozy. Yet, it has never felt quite right. A light oak chair rail divided the room horizontally with a dark evergreen painted below and a dirty beige above. At least twenty nail holes marked the walls where previous owners had hung pictures and diplomas in this former office. The beige carpet had black stains. It could have been oil, tar, or coffee, but whatever it was, it wasn’t coming out. Even though I filled this space with my furniture, books, and clothes, it increasingly felt foreign. It was not holding my story well when the shadow of another story seemed to surround me.
It’s not that I wasn’t able to redecorate this space. It’s just that I had never planned to be here for this long. Then several family health emergencies, including my father’s death, along with career changes, kept me here. In the midst of everything, an inertia quickly set in. For years I’ve included repainting this room on my annual list of goals. Still, I never found the right time. I knew that the whole process – painting the walls, staining the trim, updating the closet, and laying the carpet – would mean several weeks of disruption. I didn’t want to mess with it.
At some level, I’ve also kept this room in a state of unfinished living because I wanted to follow that story of moving. I felt that if I got frustrated enough I would leave. Well, I’m still here and should probably set down firmer roots, claiming the space for how ever long I am here – for one year or twenty. Finally, the dinginess of the walls and the frustration with my inaction has started to bear down on me. I want to see my pictures hung on the walls, not evidence from the life of someone else. It’s time to make this room mine.
I started by selecting a new color – blissful blue. A blue like the brilliant autumn skies. Cool and warm at the same time. Then I took everything out: books, furniture, clothes, pictures. With a crow bar I removed the chair rail and the old closet shelves. Now it was ready for me to step and open a new chapter for the this space. First, I filled-in all the holes in the wall and removed splattered paint from the trim. After my mom and I re-stained the trim it was time to paint the walls. What a great feeling to cover the green and beige – creating a new canvas. A fresh look in which to weave stories.
As I waited for the carpeting to arrive – two weeks – I had time to re-imagine the floor arrangement. My bed and desk had been facing the center of the house, inward looking. This simple reality could have added to the inertia as my psyche followed my physique and spent too much time looking within, enclosed by walls that were ill fitting. I decided that I would find a way to arrange things so everything would look out. Now this room has not only a different color, but a different view. Both the bed and desk are looking outward – the desk directly in front of the window. It’s reminiscent of the placement of many desks I’ve seen in authors’ homes. Moreover, with this new arrangement there was room for a rocking chair where the sun hits everyday. I can sit here and enjoy looking out the window as I read a book, dream of a new pilgrimage, or write.
Even though it’s not quite finished, I can finally say it’s a place of my own. I still have to figure out what to hang on the walls. Pictures from my past and maybe some I will make. Now I feel an energy to actively create these new images of pilgrimage. No longer am I ashamed of where I am, feeling stuck in the grooves of a broken record. I had thought success would be moving out in order to create a place of my own. Maybe a spot in the city, or a retreat center in the country. Well, who knows when that will be, if ever. So, I’m going to live, looking out on the world before me. Living into this story, here.