with all due apologies to Virginia Woolf
In August 2020, instead of our normal Blaugust shenanigans, instead we had Promptapalooza. We’d just done an off-schedule Blaugust-style write-a-thon a few months before to help us feel connected during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. So in August, we instead went round robin style with prompts that were assigned to us, making sure we wrote about our own on a specific day, and then we also wrote entries about other prompts as the mood struck us.
I’m bringing this up now, because my prompt was – for me – a doozy.
At the time, I felt like it was never going to get better for me, and it made that post really difficult to write. I like to think I can hold my own talking about just about any topic, provided I don’t have to do a whole lot of soul-searching to do it. I spent days on that post – trying to balance being honest with not being too damn depressing. I was fighting a feeling of being unwelcome in my own home – like there was no space for me to exist.
I’d like to tell you that I figured out some magical means of making myself and my needs a priority, but the real answer is far more mundane. We had a significant financial improvement in late 2020, and that enabled us to do a lot of things that were previously out of reach for us. The first priority was dealing with the problems in our house that were going to lead to bigger – and more expensive – problems down the line, and to replace some appliances that were fast becoming non-functional. We struggled through almost 6 months of having contractors in our house, fixing things that were long overdue to be fixed.
Part of that was tackling the entrance to the converted garage at the end of our house. It’s a room that just collected junk, over and over, because it wasn’t really a livable space. The sliding glass door was no longer functional, so we had that taken out, and replaced it with a more standard exterior door and a brand new chunk of wall. After that, every time we needed to rent a dumpster for some other reason, we got some of the trash out. We paid someone to pick up the larger pieces and dispose of them. By the time the rest of the work was done, the room was only half as cluttered as it once was, and most of what remained were things we wanted, but didn’t have space for.
So I decided to reclaim the space for myself.
When you’re used to being the person who makes sure everyone gets what they need, it’s not hard to neglect yourself, and I wanted to make sure everything else was handled before doing something that was just for me. While I would love to say that it just took a few weeks and a new coat of paint, we worked on the room a few hours a week from December of 2021 until … well, I’d also be lying if I said it was 100% done. But, I am finally moved in. I no longer feel like I’ve been tucked into a corner and forgotten about.
I finally have a room of my own. It’s just shy of 11′ x 17′, which is small for a garage, but plenty big enough for a combination bedroom, office & crafting space. We ripped off the old paneling, and then skimmed, sanded and painted the walls. We pulled up the astroturf and got some vinyl flooring and an area rug. My stepfather replaced the fluorescent lighting with LED and made sure there were enough outlets for my purposes. We cleaned absolutely everything, usually multiple times. We took a space that was neglected to the point of uselessness and made it cozy.
Sure, there’s still clutter that needs to be dealt with, and we’ve still got the lingering remnants of construction materials and tools taking up space until the next project – a full basement cleanout – is completed. Some of it I still need to use in here, some just doesn’t yet have a better place to be moved to. I still plan to add more shelving and storage space, and put some art on the walls.
But my books are unpacked for the first time since we moved here in the beginning of 2016, and I’ve gathered craft supplies from all the nooks and crannies of the house and centralized them. My desk chair no longer leans perceptively to the left. I have a (new, larger) desk for my computer set up, and a separate desk for craft projects. Most importantly, I have a door that closes, and I’m far enough away from the parts of the house that tend to be more active that I can bask in the quiet and the uninterrupted time for both work and play.
It’s not done, but it already feels worlds better.