Our garage belongs to mr Livslevandes. Well, not technically maybe, but in effect. I am allowed to go in there and fetch things if he is not at home, and to park the car there – but I’m not allowed to change anything. It’s his space. It’s where he goes to work on his projects, which often involve wood or metal (he is a handy man). The rest of the house is ours.
My tools are more of the reading/writing/thinking variety, and don’t really require a lot of space. What I need is uninterrupted time. Since he is working shifts and I’m not, it’s not really been a problem. It wasn’t until last year, when mr L had a spinal disc herniation and had to stay at home for a couple of months that I realized that I didn’t have a room that was mine.
You see, Mr L likes background noise – when he goes into the kitchen in the morning the first thing he does is turn the radio on, while he reads the morning paper. And then he goes in to the tv-room to watch the morning news – leaving the radio on in the kitchen…
I, on the other hand, like to wake up to my own thoughts, and leave the outside world outside for a while. I like to journal in the morning, to plan out my day before I let the world news in. The living room sofa where I usually start my day is right next to the tv room, and is open into the kitchen… and so I have no defence against the barrage of sounds he creates. After several episodes of burn out, I’m having a hard time filtering out unwanted sounds. I tried listening to music with headphones while I journal, but that didn’t really help.
Add to this the ongoing plans for mr L’s upcoming retirement – and that’s when I realized that I didn’t want this to be the rest of my life.
I talked it over with mr L, and once he was aware of the problem he immediately went into problem solving mode. He does care about my wellbeeing! We tried him abstaining from the radio – not working, the silence makes him really uncomfortable. We tried him using headphones for the tv – also not a viable option, his ears start to hurt… So we settled on making me a space.
When the boys moved out, we converted part of one bedroom to more space in the adjoining garage and made the rest storage/clothes drying room. Maybe that would be a good place for me? Unfortunately Mr L has this habit of playing the radio really loud when he is in the adjoining garage as well, and where would we put the season-things that we store there?
Move the tv back into the living room? But it’s so nice to have a space to be together without the tv… And the wall between the rooms is still to thin to block the sounds out.
The bedroom is only used at night, could we maybe make our bed into a Murphy bed and leave the space to me in the daytime? Complicated, but maybe doable…
In the end we settled for clearing out the garden shed and renovating it into a room for me. (It is a little wooden house, with windows, so it’s not as bad as it may sound.) We added some insulation to the floor and a nice flooring, lightened up the wood paneled walls and ceiling with paint, installed infrared heating. My sister had an old armchair, my sister in law a desk she wasn’t using… We bought a refurbished laptop. And here I am, in my new space.
I have a room of my own! It’s been a while now since I did. Growing up, I shared a room with my siblings until I was 10. Then I had my own room for 10 years, first at home and then studying. And then I met the man who would become the father of my son, and he moved in with me. Soon after my son was born, and then came the divorce. Living alone with my son I sort of had my own room, or rather my own time in the apartment when he went to sleep at night. The place was ours, but he had a oom of his own.
And then, when my son was 8, I met the wonderful man who would soon become mr Livslevandes, and we moved into the house where Mr L and I still live. Back then our two sons (he had an 8-year old son as well, living with him part time) were living with us. And it seemed important that they have their own rooms, while mr L and I shared a bedroom. The house isn’t big, but with creative use of space we managed. And when they moved out, mr L started working shifts… I don’t know if this is a woman thing, to settle for the space left over and make do? At least that was what I did, until now.
I’m an introvert. I like being around people – I even like being in the center of a group, sometimes. But I need time alone to recharge my batteries. I need time to reflect in order to function well. This is something I’ve always known, but in times of stress have forgotten. Having this room to go to, where I can close the door and be alone with my thoughts is heaven!
This November is the first month that the Den (yep, I went with the classic) is functional, since the heat is just now installed. I’ve made a schedule for myself, trying to get into the habit of using the space. What am I going to do with it? Journaling, absolutely. Possibly writing more, here on the blog and other stuff. Reading… Working with my photos? I’m actually trying hard NOT to decide exactly, but instead to let it evolve. I’ll let you know when I find out 🙂
Things I’m grateful about: My husband, who strives to meet my needs and wishes. The fact that I live a blessed life, in a rich country, and a place with available space. And the fact that our frugal kind of life gives us the possibility to do things that feel important to us.