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Friday, April 09, 2004

In my rooms

Because I've moved around so much, creating a space that feels settled, like home, is so important to me. I've taken great care to create a room of my own, as Virginia Woolf espouses. I first read her book when I was living in a tiny little house, working from the basement with kids toys surrounding me and wishing I had a beautiful space to create.

I got that space to create in my current home. It's the fourth bedroom, a small room with a nook into which my desk sits comfortably. It faces east, so the mornings are filled with sunshine. Even though we've lived in our house for seven years, it wasn't until this past November that I decided to really make this room my own. I unloaded the extra desk that held coloring books, crayons and markers, and decided to paint.

The walls of my office are what I would call spring green, the color you only see at this time of year as the shoots of flowers and leaves begin to emerge from slumber. This green doesn't last, it changes to a less-vibrant shade as flowers mature. But while it's here, it's as fresh as the spring breeze on my face. I brought in a few plants, too, so I could feed off of the oxygen living things provide.

I'm fortunate to have another space of my own in my house. Just below my office is the living room. I remember when I first looked at the house, I could never have imagined filling that room with furniture. But I knew I didn't want to just fill it with whatever I found. I took great care in finding things that were meaningful to me. And there would never be a television in there (although I do have a stereo).

The first purchase was a 1920s Windsor secretary that I found at an antique store. I had my eye on it for a couple of weeks and when I received a freelance check, I plunked the entire amount down on this piece. It was an exhilarating feeling, but it wasn't impulsive. I'm not an impulsive buyer and I'm not very fond of shopping, either. It's my favorite piece and holds all of my most-treasured books. Actually, I have stacks of books throughout my house.

The walls of my living room are painted a color called whitecap. It's a terrific color that changes with the light from near-white to stormy green to pale blue. It gives the room a bit of moody feel that suits me well. The furniture is mostly ivory (which astonishes people who know I have three boys). My favorite is the overstuffed rocker we bought when I was pregnant with my youngest. I spent many sleepless nights nursing and rocking him from the comfort of that chair. It's like an old friend, we know each other's shape well. Every Sunday morning, the boys know they can find me there sipping coffee, reading the paper and, weather permitting, enjoying the sun pouring in. Even my big guys still like to sit in the chair with me and rock.

And on the walls are largely photographs of places I've never been, though my desire to travel to see them myself is overwhelming. Family and friends have shared their photos and their experiences with me—the Cliffs of Mohrer, the Cotswolds, the Greek island of Mykonos, Rome, New York City. I do have photos I took while in that crazy, creative colorful southern city of Savannah. And I have the black and white photographs of the boys sitting on the rocks in the mountains of West Virginia. I've been meaning to put together a collage of photos from my Pensacola trip several years ago. And I have Margaret Bourke-White, one of my personal heroes. My sister gave me a coffee table book of her photographs for Christmas one year and it's simply inspirational. I picked up her autobiography, "A Portrait of Myself" at a library book sale and promptly asked the librarian if they planned to restock the book since her story is of great importance to young women.

Last night, while the guys watched the Cavs in the far more masculine family room, I curled in my favorite overstuffed rocked, with my feet dangling off the arm and read my book and nurtured the creative thoughts swirling in my head. Time spent like that almost feels decadent, given our often-hectic lives. But it was just what I needed to dream of wonderful things.

I pulled my copy of "A Room of One's Own" from my secretary and found a note tucked inside. (I love to put such wonderful notes inside books.) It was from a former magazine editor of mine. It read:

"April 27, 1997
Dear Wendy,
How nice that you now have a room of your own! Did you ever read Virginia Woolf's book on that subject? It's actually an expansion on a series of lectures she gave. I'm sure you are tired and still very busy getting settled, but the big push is over. Having moved quite a few times, I know the stages well. I'm sending you lots of good thoughts. May you have many, many years of happiness in your new home. With a smile, Brenda."

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