At the risk of being melodramatic, let me quote Proverbs 13:12:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (ESV)
Let me also warn you that this post is going to be heavy on the pictures.
Since my first visit to the Milwaukee Public Library with my mom, I have been in awe of libraries. That library was the most breathtaking building I had seen in my four short years. Shortly after that, I started going to story-time at our local library, or with cousins to their local library. Then came my very own school library. I was never a teacher’s pet, but every librarian—school or public— from that time on knew my name. There was no better reward or motivator for me than a pass to the library.
Then I started noticing private libraries, offices, and studies in homes on TV, in the movies, or in historical houses my family or class visited. The Barkley’s library on The Big Valley, Ward Cleaver’s study on Leave it to Beaver, Professor Higgins’ library in My Fair Lady, the library at the House on the Rock near Madison, WI… all swoon-worthy and the beginning of my dream. One day, I would have my very own library.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
― Virginia Woolf,
Having my own library or a dedicated room as a study was a hope of mine, but admittedly it never really made me heart-sick. The nice thing about having a strong imagination is that anytime I curl up with a book, I can be anywhere I want while reading, even in my very own imaginary study which looked very much like the study at Gad’s Hill where Charles Dickens penned many of his novels.
After my husband and I purchased our first home, we turned the third bedroom into an office, purchased a large second-hand desk, set up one set of bookshelves, and moved in a sewing cabinet that had been his great-aunt’s. It was more of a family office/hobby room than the study of my dreams, but for a couple years it satisfied my hopes. Then the boys became old enough to realize they were polar opposites and could no longer share a bedroom. Young-son moved into that third bedroom, the desk and bookshelves moved to the combined living/dining room right next to the front door, and the sewing center moved to the master bedroom. That setup worked for about a decade. It was less than ideal, but for much of that time I had an office or classroom on campus to house my books and work in peace. Then a friend of our sons moved in with us, and we converted the dining room into his bedroom. That temporarily marked the end of any idea of a private study.
In 2013 we decided to downsize, and moved into a two-bedroom apartment. Firstborn-son was almost moved out, and Young-son was hoping to move out, so they agreed to share a room for the remaining time until they left the nest. Firstborn-son got married and left home months later, and Young-son had the room all to himself. The family office was in a corner of our new and smaller master bedroom, and most of our library was boxed and stored in a barn hours away. Then Young-son moved out. It took awhile to get rid of the boys furniture and figure out what we wanted to do with the second bedroom. My loving husband fulfilled my hopes and dreams, and we finally created a modest version of what I had been imagining for decades.
It was almost complete, still a few boxes, still some organizing to do, still pictures and diplomas to hang. And then Young-son’s living arrangements were upended, and due to the housing shortage in Dallas/Fort Worth, he moved back in with us. Most of the furniture he had acquired went into storage, but he still brought a number of things with him, including an air mattress that went on the floor of the study. What was supposed to be three weeks turned into three months before he was able to get into his new apartment. Overall, it was quite nice having him home again as he is easy to live with and was at work much of the time. Unfortunately, that meant I didn’t have access to the study.
He moved out the Sunday before Christmas, and we got him settled. Fortunately Hubby took off work the next day hoping to hunt, but ended up staying home with me recouping from the move. A little before noon, all the fire alarms in our building went off, and water flooded from the apartment upstairs into the newly vacant study, the living room, the storage closet, and like a waterfall over the balcony. A cold snap the night before caused the fire alarm sprinkler system to freeze and burst. Since my husband and a neighbor across the way were home, they were able to rescue and protect most of our possessions, but not the walls or carpet. Most everything had to be moved to allow for the damaged walls to be removed, everything dried out, and new walls replaced. Add in Christmas and New Year weekends, and the repairs lasted over three weeks.
Now, the first week of February, it is time to share some pictures and tell my tale. This version of the McClatchy study has been a year in the making. It still requires some wall hangings, but it’s complete enough that I can dream and read and write in a “room of her own.” The morning sun comes in the window next to the used desk we purchased almost twenty years ago. The mirrored closet doors serve as a dry-erase board to visualize my stories, goals, and action items. The closet itself hides a filing cabinet and all our office and hobby equipment. The comfy reading chair, handed down from my parents, sits under the stained-glass hanging lamp my dad made. And there is plenty of room for Hubby and the fur-kids to come visit.
Happy sigh… I don’t believe this is my “tree of life,” but it certainly makes my heart glad. I’d love for you to tell me… what is your dream space? Is it a hope deferred, imagined, in process, or complete? Wishing you a place that makes your heart glad.