A safety place

A wall inside my garret, July 2007

A wall inside my garret, July 2007

“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!


  1. There’s nothing like retreating to your special place to realign with your thoughts and daydream! I love your garret!

    • Thank you! I appreciate your visits here :-).

  2. I too love your little space. I hope you are able to spend some time there over this holiday weekend. Love you.

    • Amy, I will…and I’ll think of you when I do! Hope to see you soon.

  3. Carolyn

    I don’t have a place but now I think I will find one. You made it sound like a great place to be sometimes. I went for my dr. appointment yesterday and not all my lab work was back and it was the one with my high marker . Nurse said she would call. I did get a good report on every thing else, see you again in 3 months. Hope that marker is down. we arae having some wonderful weather and I have been using my porch. I hope you all will have a great 4th of July. Give hugs and love to the family.

    • Carolyn, thanks for letting us know – we’ll be praying extra for you :-). I’m glad all the other reports were good. Have a wonderful holiday and thanks for being here – it is so nice to be in touch more frequently.

  4. Sheila

    Julia,what a lovely, little sanctuary you have created. Although you describe it as unfinished, I’m sure that you complete it every time you go there. Sometimes I wonder if I just flutter around, looking for a place to land. Maybe I’ll look for a special place to call my retreat!
    Hope Jeff and Matt are steadily improving, Sheila

    • Thank you, Sheila. I think we all do a good bit of “fluttering” around our homes, but that’s fun too. Jeff and Matt do seem to be getting better, and for that we are thankful. We appreciate your prayers and your friendship. Happy 4th of July!

  5. What a lively, lovely space! It makes me want to put photos on my walls.

    • Thanks, Tony! I have so many big and little posters, photos, cards etc. that I could probably paper about 10 or 12 walls this way (maybe more) but it’s best to keep it confined to my little garret since it can be distracting to me and annoying to everyone else. 🙂

  6. merry

    Julia, I like your little study room. I like to sit and read in my sunroom.
    Hope you, Jeff and Matt enjoy a great 4th of July.

    • Hi Merry, I’m so glad you have a sunroom! Our York home has a nice sunroom too, and I didn’t realize at the time how much we would enjoy it. Our son Matt spends most of his time there, working his jigsaw puzzles. I should try reading there sometime; the light is good and it would be almost as if outdoors, except with air conditioning and no bugs! Happy Independence Day to you too, and thanks for being here!

  7. So true, we all benefit from an ‘inner sanctum’. Sometimes when it feels as if my world is crashing, I walk along the dunes and stare at the vastness of the sea, and after some time, I know everything will be alright. But, when I can’t go out, my small library suffices- there I collect my thoughts….

    • It’s good you are close enough to the sea to walk there often. I find it very calming no matter what state of mind I’m in when I go. I also find peace in browsing through my books; it’s a wonderful combination of quiet solitude and communication with others through reading. Thanks for being here and for your comment!


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