Posted in concert with this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge.
The subject for this week’s Lens Artist Challenge is “Alone Time.” Host, Ann-Christine, begins her piece, “Alone time means time spent by an individual or a couple apart from others.”
Some people choose nature to find their alone time. I do. Some take a drive. I’ve certainly done that; an 8,000 mile solo road trip through the Midwest should qualify. Mostly though, I find my alone time in my own home, in a small downstairs bedroom that currently serves as my office, but, for over more than two decades has served many purposes and the people who have called it, even if only briefly, their own space.
This office – I’ve made it my own space while keeping reminders of what it’s been over the years. I’ve decorated the room, or fouled it, depending on your point of view, with mementoes of my life and the lives of my family.
Ann-Christine writes, “It (your solitary place) is often used to ground oneself, or to do something creative.”
My office is where I work, where I write (where I’m writing this very piece), where I edit and where I think. Sometimes it’s where I listen to music or take a nap.
For over thirteen years, it was my son’s room. He moved in when he was five. It was the place where you went to scream in pain after stepping on a Lego blog. It wasn’t just his room. Phantom, our first Gordon Setter, slept with our son until Matt went to college. To this day I don’t know how that kid and that big dog managed to share a single bed. I mean, let’s face it, dogs normally sleep curled in a warm, compact ball. That is, until they get invited to the bed, in which case they manage to sprawl into what seems triple their size.
When Matt moved out it became a spare bedroom and went mostly unused. By and by, our friend Scott moved into the room and stayed while he was between jobs. That was only for a few months until he found a job in Medford, Oregon. Over the next few years he used the room as a home base every October when he came down to the Bay Area for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, in San Francisco.
It was my dearest friend Ivy’s (not her real name) room while she was going through a personal crisis. She called that room her home until the night she left to take her own life. Luckily, she was found by the Oakland police who spotted her car. She’d left us a short note which I’ve kept to this day. It’s a reminder.
Medford wasn’t kind to Scott. From what I know of Medford, the only good things about it are full service gas and the Harry and David’s gourmet food outlet. Scott moved back in to look for another job. After a while he moved on and the room became my grandson Jackson’s.
My daughter Jessica, Jackson and sister Luciana (Lucy), just moved out last summer. Broke my heart. Many of the things that Jackson left behind, a Steph Curry piggy bank, his soccer medals and a painting he did, still remain.
This is where my son did his homework, where Scott read voraciously, where Jackson did his homework and, I’m so proud to say, read Maus — because he wanted to. This is where I come to read.
Held in place by a petrified rock I got in a gift shop at the Painted Desert and Jackson’s old piggy bank, six special books sit on a shelf by themselves:
The Constitution of The United States
The copy of Maus that my grandson Jackson read.
My dad’s copy of Here Is Your War, by Ernie Pyle. My father was a veteran of WWII, and his favorite correspondent was Ernie Pyle.
Dad’s copy of The Pickwick Papers (1943).
Dad’s copy of This Is My Best (1943), an anthology of writers that includes, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Sandburg, James Thurber, William Carlos Williams, Robinson Jeffers and over 80 others.
A personalized autographed copy of Over Time by Frank Deford.
Growing up, and later, during my early adult years, Deford was my favorite sports writer. Every week I would wait for my copy of Sports Illustrated to arrive so I could read his column. There’s an importance to the date of the autograph. Cora and I went to see a talk by Mr. Deford at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. As he was speaking and later chatting and autographing copies of his book, a few miles away at the ballpark, Giants pitcher Matt Cain was throwing a perfect game. Driving home we listened to the innings go by as Cain mowed down every batter he faced. We got home just in time to see the final pitch.
While my wife listens to the radio in the morning after she gets up, I take my breakfast here; to read, to relax and to find some quiet.
There is a collection of random stuff on the top shelf of my desk.
“Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out.”
― Criss Jami
The wall holds a few of my photographs along with a reminder of the days when I was a Civil War reenactor. A Sharps carbine hangs below a cavalry sabre and above a Union cavalry forage cap.
My room? Well, not just mine. Most of the time my dog Lexi stays with me, curled up on her dog bed. Sometimes, when I lounge on the futon she rests her nose on my chest while I read.
My room? No, it can never be just mine. This is a room that speaks of everything its walls have seen, heard, smelled and felt. Well, not everything. I’m sure that the room has secrets best not made known.
We’re going to be selling the house soon. Move to a smaller place. I suppose that I’ll have my own room/office but it won’t be the same. You see, this room contains memories and stories. The new room can never replace this room. The new room has never known Matthew, or Phantom, or Lexi (or our other dogs, Rainey and Chloe), or Scott, or Ivy, or Jackson. I can decorate that new room it with all of the memorabilia I choose but it will just be decoration.
The new owner will probably spackle over the divots in the baseboards, dings that were made when my son and later, my grandsons crashed their diecast cars. He’ll paint over the gouge in the wall from the little basketball hoop Jackson hung on the door, and the scratches that Lexi’s nails made when she asked to come in or go out. All of the voices in this room will go silent the day we close the door behind us for good.
To see Ann-Christine’s take on Alone Time, visit her site, Leya. While you’re there, scroll through the comments to see how other’s find their Alone Time.