This week started with a few necessary errands: paint for baseboards, woodwork, and walls; tile for the heated floor; and a light fixture. I went alone, revisiting a trifecta of stores that became familiar several years ago when we were renovating our kitchen. While necessary, nothing about these errands felt burdensome or difficult, though I was initially nervous to be making such permanent decisions alone. But anxiety quickly turned to excitement. This room is just for me! I haven’t had a room just for me since I was a student. (Do you remember how thrilling it was to paint your new room in your new student dive, even if you got the colours all wrong? I sure do. And boy was that one room ever yellow. Yikes. Live and learn.)
On Monday morning, I discovered that much of my excitement was tactile. Touching the grooves on the tile. Comparing colours. This room is still basically an act of imagination; in my fiction, I almost always write characters into backgrounds that actually exist, almost as if I’m incapable of fully imagining a brand-new place, and need to use physical ingredients that my senses have experienced. (The same is not true for characters, who seem to arrive and stake out their personalities in ways that remain mysterious to me.)
In any case, there was something about touching cool tile and considering the light illuminating opaque glass that brought this new room to life in my imagination. The addition of details makes shape of an empty space. These details will surround my every day.
How much do the details matter? Sometimes, I think not at all. Kids can play anywhere. Kevin and I have lived along many busy streets over the years, and I used to imagine that the passing traffic sounded like a river or an ocean. Disruption is everywhere, daily, hourly. Serenity comes from within. But beauty … beauty can be created and invited, too. And what I see through this window is one tiny, beautiful, and serene room in our busy and often untidy house.
For that room, I chose dark floor tile that is grained like wood. I chose a light fixture with three separate rectangular glass pendants that reminded me of books. I chose pale yellow for the woodwork, and basic white for the walls, in flat paint rather than gloss.
I see no toys on the floor. I see artwork of my own choice on the walls. I see books. I see an old rocking chair that belonged to my great-aunt in one corner, in which a guest could sit. I see light.