My daughter loves to build tents and forts. She has a reading chair underneath a canopy in her bed room. At her grandparent’s house she has a labyrinth of boxes that she has converted into a “castle”. These are all her special places.
When I was a little girl, I used to like to rearrange the furniture in my room creating little nooks and crannies where I could curl up with a journal or a good book. I had a writing desk that my sister finished for me which was where I wrote many a short story or poem of teenage angst. I still have that writing desk. I always will.
Recently, as I was going through some of the stories my Dad had written for me, and I happened across this one:
“I have always had some special place that was mine. When I was about four we moved to the house at 5009 Suwanee Ave. in Tampa, FL. There was only one other house on our side of the street, and it was on the far corner. Until well after I was grown, there were no houses from ours to the other corner. The spaces on the empty lots were always grown up with weeds, which were always higher than my head. The city only occasionally mowed the vacant lots, and so I could make tunnels and hidden paths in the high weeds. I would take the palm leaves that fell from the tall palm trees that lined our block and covered the sides and top of the huts that I built hidden in the weeds. I usually had and old junk radio in my hut with which I communicated with my make-believe world.”
My husband says that when he was growing up, they had a finished basement with two sofas on opposing sides. He would stretch a blanket, held in place by the sofa cushions and create his own special place.
Right now my place is more of a corner in the bedroom where I can sit in a rocker, with the bedroom door closed, my laptop or a good book in hand and a cup of tea beside me. I don’t require much space. This place of my own is as much about creating a boundary of time and quite as it is about creating a boundary of space.
In these days of modular classrooms, where students don’t have desks of their own, and cube farms and open offices where a place to call our own is increasingly scarce, it’s hard to find a retreat from the rest of the world where we can refill the well and find some peace. In this world of ridiculously busy schedules, “organized play”, and increased productivity, creating that boundary of time is even more difficult. We need to figure out how to create those boundaries and protect them—those boundaries where we can take deep breaths, think deep thoughts, play deeply and figure out where we are in this spinning orb.
There is something refreshingly innocent about what my dad writes about his place and in his statement that everyone should have a special place. Mostly because I know that he believed that all his life and practiced it. He always had a special place—his workshop and later his hangar—where he surrounded himself with the pictures of family, letters and newspaper clippings. It was his place where he went to recharge before setting about his work in the world.
Where is your place?
© 2014 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.