When I was eleven my family moved to a new house. It was a split level, and I had the basement bedroom. I had a three yellow walls, one wall with yellow roses, and wall-to-wall spring green carpet under my French Provincial 1970s bedroom suite, complete with canopy bed (covered with one of Mima’s afghans, of course–yellow and green!). I wish I had a picture to show you. I guess it was a little loud, but it looked like springtime, and I loved it.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in the privacy of that room. I used to love to sit on my floor, listening to my record albums (usually my soundtrack to the animated version of The Lord of the Rings), drawing with my colored pencils in my special sketchbook. I studied there, in front of my wall heater. I wrote a book there, reading chapters aloud to my sister as I finished them. I talked on the phone for hours there (by pulling the long cord of the downstairs extension into the room!). I entertained my friends there. I cried there. I loved being able to go downstairs and lock myself in, away from everyone. It was a sanctuary.
For four years in college, I shared a bedroom. Then I got married, and quickly was sharing my bedroom not only with my husband, but with a succession of babies and small children and an abundance of clutter. First we had a creaky old bed; later we switched to box spring and mattess right on the floor to keep rolling babies safer. When we moved into our Victorian house, I had high hopes for the bedroom-as-sanctuary: it was a large room, with a fireplace and a door which once led to a balcony. We even had a loveseat, but it quickly became a magnet for clothes waiting (and waiting, and waiting . . . )to be hung up, and the rest of the room quickly filled with the clutter that was overtaking the whole house.
The bedroom in what the little ones have christened “the burned down house” was kind of an anti-sanctuary. We could not even get our boxspring up the stairs of this 1960 split level, so we had our mattress right on the floor. It was stiflingly hot from May through September, and there were no screens on the windows, so that we learned to live with pollen everywhere and an abundance of flying and crawling friends. We usually had two cats in bed with us, not to mention Lorelei AND William. There always seemed to be either dirt (courtesy of the aforementioned bedmates) or crumbs (thanks, to John, who WOULD NOT STOP eating crunchy snacks in bed) amongst the sheets. And this room was smaller than the last, and the clutter just as bad. I hated going in there, frankly.
But now. Oh my.
Can I just say that going up to my room at night is just about my favorite part of the day? And not just because I love to sleep. No, it is that sense of sanctuary that was pretty much completely missing from ANY room of the last place we lived. (And is it any wonder, in retrospect, that I never felt quite safe or at home there?)
The room is enormous. And there’s no clutter because we don’t own any.
There’s a huge bathroom with two sinks and a spa tub.
It has a walk-in closet. You’d laugh if you saw a picture of that. John, who was given all my Uncle Charlie’s clothes, and received shirts and ties from many other sources as well, NEEDS the closet (for that matter, as an attorney, he needs the clothes). My side, on the other hand, is sparsely populated at the moment!
I love the furniture in the room, donated by a friend of my father and step-mother. And there is no accumulation of knick-knacks to detract from it (the collection of . . . shall we say, CRAP, that used to sit on John’s bureau had been annoying me for years.).
And the bed. Oh, the bed.
The bedspread is EXACTLY like one I inherited from Mima that was lost in the fire. I never got to use it because it was too long with the bed always being on the floor. The sheets are Ralph Lauren with a ridiculously high thread count. Getting into this bed every night with my book and my book light and my reading glasses is truly one of my greatest pleasures in life.
By now it probably goes without saying that every single thing in this room–the pictures, the linens, the books, the furniture, the pillows–even the nightgown I sleep in each night–came from the love and generosity of friends, family, even strangers. That makes the room feel like even more of a blessing. I feel safe and loved here.
What about you? Is your bedroom a sanctuary? Do you have another place that is–or has been–a sanctuary for you?