In my early twenties, I was a Music and Drama counsellor for a day camp. I had worked there every summer since I was fifteen and loved my summers there–preferring to be a counsellor than a camper. That particular summer, though, the camp director had decided to move the Music and Drama department to a new building. I cannot remember if we had been in a barn and then moved to a two-room building, or it was reverse, but I do recall my big complaint that summer was the lack of an office. In fact, when we got our staff sweatshirts, I blazed my discontent across the back of it:
While I was upset over a lack of control over my work environment, it was probably also about–but didn’t know it at the time as I didn’t put the pieces together until recently–of when my parents had decided to move us from our childhood home without consulting my brother and I. Maybe because the first time they had tried to do this, we had removed the ‘For Sale’ sign from the lawn.
But, life goes in cycles and I was to confront this theme again. On this day last year my landlord of ten years came over for our yearly handing over of the cheques and gave us some bad news … they were selling the house. I know he felt badly about it, but that didn’t soften the disappointment and fear. There was/is a rental shortage in Toronto and housing is ridiculously high, so there is no way that my partner and I could even conceive of buying a place. What’s more, when we looked at the rents in the neighbourhood we had been living in, it had doubled. Everything was going to change.
Truthfully, we had become comfortable in the house. After ten years, we knew our neighbours and had a routine. It was centrally located and we put up with some of the weirdnesses because we liked living there. We had discussed eventually finding a home of our own, but I had just payed off my student loans and was slowly beginning to save again. It was a plan we had considered, but later.
But there it was again, a decision was made and I was forced to move against my will to a new space. I remember going to sleep because I couldn’t even conceive as to how it was all going to work out.
It did, of course, and we are in a new house that we are slowly adjusting to. The lights and meals we’ve had here over the holiday season has truly made it a home. But, the biggest thing for me was creating a sacred space with my office.
I’m a big believer in having a space of ones own to work. Perhaps inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Room of One’s Own, the idea of the importance of women have a creative space, but I’ve always been attached to this idea. Even when I worked in the corporate world, I set up my desk so there were personal touches, things that reminded me of self. At one point, I had a series of bookcases around me so it was like the corner was mine.
Leaving the office on Conway was incredibly difficult because it was my sacred space. I read, wrote, practiced meditation and yoga there. In retrospect, it didn’t have a lot of shelves or space for storage. I had to put a lot of things in the basement because I couldn’t actually keep it in the room. But, I wrote my second master’s thesis there, two novels and a number of essays and articles. While I wrote all over the United States and Canada, MAUD had been birthed in that room.
It was important that not only I record taking it down, but saying good bye to it.
As I started packing, I noticed how hard I had worked that space. It looked tired, like it needed a rest and maybe a coat of paint. Maybe, without me realizing it, I had outgrown my Little Office on Conway.
My new office came painted purple. It had been a little girl’s room with a big princess bed where my new desk lives.
It took a little while for me to understand the space and move things to where I want them, or maybe how the room did?
The office is twice the size of the old office and there is a cupboard with shelves. There is also ample room for bookshelves and a yoga mat, as well as a meditation chair.
Slowly, new words for new works in progress are being written, including an essay that is now in the editor’s inbox.
I worked hard in 2017. I travelled across Canada and in parts of the United States. I created many different kinds of presentations and workshops about L.M. Montgomery and MAUD. I wrote words for a new WIP, and revised some old ones. I was part of the biggest college strike in Ontario’s history. And, I moved.
Maybe, 2017 is like my old office, tired, with shaded spaces where pictures used to hang and a few cracks in the ceiling. It probably also needs a new coat of paint. It is hard to let go of the past, but like all change, it is going to happen whether we like it or not, so might as well embrace the new and hope for better, brighter spaces with more closet space…
And, maybe, 2018 is like my new office. Already painted with my favourite colour, and ready to get to work.