When we first started talking about building a new house I told my wife that I didn’t really care about most of the particulars. It didn’t matter to me how many bathrooms there would be (there are 2 1/2), or how high the ceilings (8 feet), or even if our bedroom was upstairs or down. The only thing I cared about was having a private study. So, when the engineer put everything down on paper and I saw that my study was accounted for in the house plans I was ecstatic.
To understand why this was so important to me, we have to go back to how I grew up. We lived in several houses, but we owned none of them, and my room was always the smallest one. When we lived in West Philly the room I occupied had been the storage room for the previous occupants. I knew it wasn’t personal. I was the youngest (and therefore the smallest, so I took up less room) and it was my lot in life.
In fact, I never expected to ever have a room that was just mine, past a bedroom anyway. So I often made a corner of my bedroom my “office,” where I would set up my writing implements, where I would keep my books stacked up, ready for me to read them, where I felt just a little more private. It was my space, though it wasn’t really mine, just rented from the bedroom space as a whole. But it was what I had and I took good care of my space.
Then I got married and we moved into a house together. We had one bedroom, another room (that we used at first for the computer, etc. but became the kids’ room). There was a large upstairs space, but it was really an attic room. I would go up there when I wanted to write (once the computer desk was relocated), but it was again just a space I had co-opted from something else (storage, etc. up there). I appreciated it, because it was where I could go when I was creative and I wanted to write.
But when I found out I was going to have an entire room dedicated to me, I was amazed. I felt blessed beyond measure because it was more than I could have wished for, and yet I had wished for it my entire life. No longer would I have to take space from a room meant for other endeavors. No more would I have to squeeze my area into something that wasn’t mine.
It’s funny how things change, too. We moved in, I think, three and a half years ago, and I’ve had my private study ever since. It’s everything I wanted, and more. Everything in the room is mine–my books, my desk, my posters, my golf lamp, my laptop, my pictures. I come in and I automatically feel calm, and creative, and raring to go.
This could have been a guest bedroom, or a kids’ playroom, or any number of other kinds of areas, but my wife insisted that I get the one thing I’ve wanted for so long, and I love it. Right now I’m here, listening to LL Cool J, looking out one of the windows at the expansive lawn, and I feel more like myself than I ever have before. I firmly believe that Virginia Woolf had it right. We all do need a room of one’s own.