I had a thing for forts when I was a kid. I mean, really, what kid doesn’t? I always wanted to have some special, super secret hideout. I fashioned a few over the years–cutting a small clearing in the hedges growing along the side of our house, rearranging boxes in closets. Hell, one year when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and my family was still living in the tiny town of Bird City, Kansas, I even built a giant fort out of the hundred or so tumbleweeds that blew into our backyard one fall, but that one was pretty short-lived since Dad usually took care of the tumbleweeds as soon as they arrived by lighting a fire in a barrel in the backyard and burning them.
Part of me always hoped I might have something a little more permanent (and a helluva lot cooler). I wanted a tree house, or even a small clubhouse that I could build in my backyard. The closest I got was when my family moved to Holdrege, Nebraska and my family bought a house that had a little two-story shed in the backyard. I laid claim to the top floor before Dad could fill it with tools and useless junk, and I struck gold when I found some old pieces of carpet in the basement.
I called my friend Jenny and we raided Dad’s toolbox and spend the better part of an afternoon carpeting our new hangout. We were about halfway done when we heard a loud POP! from below and discovered that we’d been driving 3-inch nails straight through the plywood and nailed one right into the light fixture in the shed below.
Duane was a little pissed when he saw our handiwork, but hey, you live and learn right? And, after a long lecture, we were able to finish our carpeting job with some appropriately-sized nails and then spent the better part of a summer wasting away the hours in our hideout.
I eventually grew out of my cramped (and poorly insulated) loft in the shed, but it was fun while it lasted. And even if I’ve never had another proper clubhouse or treehouse, I’ve managed to find contentment in having some sort of space that was all my own. In high school, it was my basement bedroom. I could close my door, turn on some music, and write for hours. In college, it was my dorm room, after my roommate moved out and I managed to keep a single. After graduation, it was my private bed, bath and living room in a shared house, and then eventually my own studio apartment in a building a I shared with a cop, his girlfriend, and three nuns.
Sometimes the solitude of my own space was welcome. Other times, the loneliness was nearly my undoing. But either way, I learned a lot about myself in the quiet.
I’ve always been the type who needs a bit of space, some room to breathe and unwind, especially at the end of a long day filled with people and commitments and demands. There’s something about stepping into my own little corner of the world that helps me tune out the noise and find my balance again. These days, it’s a little harder to find that quiet spot, to catch a moment completely to myself. These past few months, I haven’t been very good about it at all, and I’ve paid for it with this lingering illness and this general feeling of exhaustion.
And thank you to Cosette for reminding me today, just how important it is for each of us to have our own sacred space, a place we can go to unwind, relax, and recharge our batteries. You know Cadence was thrilled when she woke and found that Cosette built her a special little place, but if we want to continue using our dining room table for meals, I guess this means we’re going to have to do a little brainstorming for a more permanent clubhouse.
But for now, we’ll just have fun…