Note: This post is written in response to the WordPress Writing Challenge: The Devil is in the Details
The room faces east, so in the morning, my favorite time to write, the sun streams in the large double window and glows off the terra cotta walls. In fact, I must reluctantly adjust the blinds to block the rays that hit my face as I sit on one of the two comfy patchwork-patterned club chairs with laptop, my first cup of coffee on the table beside me. This room more than any other in my house is a warm embrace filled with the story of my life. Each of the many family photos hanging on the walls and littering the tops of file cabinet, desk, sewing-machine table, and bookcase has its own story to tell. The one on top of the photo-printer of my Mom with her four small children on the grass in front of our home in the “projects” in Cleveland shortly before my father abandoned our family and her long odyssey into poverty-stricken single motherhood began. The one of my sister Susan smiling from an outdoor cafe table some forty years later when the five of us returned on what we called the Pilgrimage to Cleveland so our Mother could revisit the city where she grew up, married, and gave birth to four of her five children. The nose-to-nose portrait of my two happy, beautiful daughters that they had made as a Christmas gift for their parents ten years or so ago when they were still in their twenties. The close-up of the flawless, wide blue-eyed baby face of my niece, born following three miscarriages to my “baby” sister, whose only heart’s goal in life was to have children. The snuggling, smiling heads of my Mom and my only brother who spent every week day with her during the two years of her treatment for the cancer that ultimately took her life. The portrait of me taken by the College PR department when I began my 25 year career at Ivy Tech, a favorite of my Mom’s that hung on her picture wall until her house was sold. I never liked the picture much, but it was her favorite of me, and now I’m thinking I looked much younger, thinner, prettier then. Pictures of my children, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, even one of my ex-husband playfully kissing the cheek of my brother-in-law, all carrying stories of the joys and sorrows of their own lives. It could be overwhelming – but somehow it’s mostly reassuring to know my place among them.
The other clutter in the room comes from piles of projects. Magazines to be read, binders and files full of papers to be put away or dealt with. I’ll turn 65 this year, so there’s a tote-bag full of information on Medicare to wade through. A box of travel information and mementos that I will use to help me sort and identify the 1500 or so photos I took on my trip with friends this past summer to Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, and the Czech Republic. So much to do.
In one corner of the room, my large desk is surrounded by and cluttered with items of form and function. I love the framed print by N. A. Noel on the wall above it of a little Amish girl holding a white cat. It looks so much like my younger daughter and Happy, the cat we had when my girls were growing up. A tearful Rachel held that cat in her arms years later when, old and ill, it was put to sleep. Next to that hangs a canvass print of a photo I took of the reading room of the Library of Congress – my Mecca – on that lucky day when a friend and I happened to visit it on a rare day that it was open to the public and photography was allowed. On the short side of the desk corner wall are four square painted canvasses depicting keyboard symbols &, !, @, and “. The chrome and brass desk lamp came from a shopping trip in Indianapolis many years ago during a visit with my friend Sarah One, so designated because of the later acquisition of my friend Sarah Two. And then, there’s the pencil mug, the Gertrude Stein in the shape of her harsh square face, ears and all, with the small figure of Alice B. Toklas perched on the handle. This treasure I acquired from a catalog many years ago in another life when I was a stay-at-home mom, gardening, canning, and doing needlepoint. Also holding desk tools is the green and gold stein, the only remaining memento from my undergraduate years. And on, and on. Amazingly, as crowded as the room is with memories and physical clutter, it’s still a restful place for me, a place of comfort. All the unfinished chores will wait for me. When I’m here, the lurking threat of possible boredom disappears. There will always be something interesting to do. For now, though, the face of the baby Ben alarm clock my sister gave me and the sunlight leaving the windows for the roof are reminding me that this day must move on.