A safety place
“It is strange how a man believes he can think better in a special place. I have such a place, have always had it, but I know it isn’t thinking I do there, but feeling and experiencing and remembering. It’s a safety place. Everyone must have one, although I never heard a man tell of it.” — John Steinbeck
Nine years ago when we first moved to Virginia from northern California, I was terribly homesick for the west coast, and had not yet discovered much to love about our new location. That would change within a year, but the first few months were difficult. On the plus side, I loved our home with its large, wooded (and partly overgrown) lot, detached spare garage, and abundant closets. The house contained a few lighted, floored attic spaces tucked beneath the rafters, a feature I’ve always loved in houses.
The door to one of these spaces was located inside a walk-in closet that I turned into a craft storage area. Finding that this particular attic space was large enough for a desk and chair, a bookcase, and several storage files and drawers, I decided to convert it to my own personal hideaway. I covered the walls and rafters with favorite photos, sayings and mementos, many of which were reminders of the home I missed. I filled it with old paperbacks and stationery, and put a rug on the plywood floor. (I featured another photo of my little attic nest in this post.)
That tiny garret is a place such as Steinbeck describes above. I go there to think, prowl among books and old ephemera, or just sit in the quiet and reflect on whatever it was that drove me into the space I jokingly call my “inner sanctum.” (It’s especially wonderful to go in there when I can hear the rain falling directly above me.) That small room, unfinished and without heat or air conditioning, is one of my favorite things about our York home. If we ever decide to move, I’ll be sad to leave it behind.
Do you have a favorite retreat where you go to be alone with your thoughts? Or a place you have decorated with significant trinkets, saying or photos? If so, I hope you will make some time to enjoy an uninterrupted visit there soon. If you don’t yet have such a place, I highly recommend finding one, outdoors or indoors, where you feel safe and removed from day-to-day distractions. Happy daydreaming!