A Room of My Own

” I have a recurring image in my dreams of a house with two floors that I have either forgotten about or abandoned. Both have separate staircases, and while others are aware of the one set of stairs, the other is only known by me,” I tell my therapist. “I get the irony of having two stories hovering over me,” I add. “But haven’t really worked with it. The one floor has many bedrooms and bathrooms and feels overwhelming.”

“What’s on the other floor?”

“A single room, like an attic, that sits at the front of the house. A room with a view,” I joke.

“What’s in the room?”

“A lot of cobwebs, as if I haven’t been there for a long time, and only two pieces of furniture. I think that it represents my spiritual connection – a kind of sacred sanctuary that I have neglected.”

“I think that should be your homework,” she advises me. “Decide what you want to do with that room – create a visual of a room that brings you peace or whatever else you need to maintain equilibrium. I think its’ especially important at this time.”

It’s not that I disagree with her, but I find this exercise difficult. Born fifth of six children, I have seldom experienced a room of my own. Even after I left home, I had roommates, or husbands, then children, and the focus has been on compromise or pleasing others. What would a room of my own look like?

I picture myself back in the dream, in the room with many cobwebs, and in my mind’s eye that’s where I begin: cleaning away the cobwebs. I would paint the walls lavender, I decide: a soft, comforting colour, reminding me to be tender with myself. And I’d have three windows – one facing forward and two on the sides to create a cross breeze, so the wind would always blow and the thoughts that normally crowd my mind could follow the wind. And I’d have crisp, white lace curtains, to add a touch of delicacy to the room. There would be no window looking back.

One of the pieces of furniture is an old cedar chest that once belonged to my mother – her original hope chest. Battered on the outside from years of use and being moved frequently, the chest’s cedar interior remains pristine – aromatic and well-constructed. It reminds me of a time when I believed in magic and mystery – childhood fantasies of what the chest contained; although my mother always reassured it held nothing fancy, I liked to imagine otherwise.

The other item in the room is a Bentwood rocking chair. “Rocking is a comforting motion,” my therapist reminded me, “something mothers do with their babies.” “I still like to rock,” I agree. Why a Bentwood, I wonder?

Like my mother’s hope chest, my Bentwood rocker was the first thing I brought into a marital home. It symbolized my wishes for a cozy home life, and the children that would follow – a woman’s hopes and dreams. Why are they in this room? Is the dream telling me that it is important to hang on to one’s dreams – or at least one’s values? So much has happened throughout the years that I wonder if that’s possible. How many times does a woman get knocked down before she stops believing that family, harmony, and peace can exist?

I’ll trust my dream source and keep these two pieces of furniture. What else does this room need? Music, I instantly think, I need a source of music, and not just my cellphone playlist – I will not have a cellphone here – that’s for certain. No wi-fi either. I’ll need a word processor, and if I need to look something up, well I can go return to the life of electronics by leaving my room.

If I’m going to write here, I’ll need a desk, or one of those lounging sofas so that I can sit comfortably while I compose. Shelves for books, too, so I can surround myself with inspiration.

An easel. I’d like an easel. Not that I’ve painted in a very long time, but maybe I could dabble – it’s something I always wanted to learn to do. Sketch books, of course, and art supplies. I wouldn’t restrain myself. This is my room, after all.
I would need art on the walls – water colours of beautiful landscapes, or seascapes – or maybe works of my own creation – making sure the view out my
window is always a beautiful one.

A view. Whose heart doesn’t yearn for a view? I’d have a big old willow tree, constantly reminding me of long ago summers, whiling away lazy days in on the uppermost branches. And water too – although my cravings fluctuate from the laughing chorus of a trickling stream, to the lulling waves of the ocean – water is a must. No roads, or buildings. Just green as far as the eye can see, or fields of wildflowers – nature at its best.

I’m enjoying this exercise. Even as I write this, I can feel the tension in my mind easing, and the possibilities singing inside me. A place of peace, of sanity, and restoration. A safe place where I can explore my creativity or just sit and soak in the beauty and tranquility. A place where time stands still and there are no disruptions. A kind of heaven.

Next step: Who would invite in this room with me? Hmm, more contemplation needed.

What would your room look like?