Even with the extravagance of having my own room and a blessed door to close off from the family, I have accepted that my home is not the place to write.
In the modern vernacular it is a ‘home office’. Suitably equipped with a mélange of abandoned furniture. An old gouged Bombay Company writing desk rescued from the scrap heap in a remodel of a long ago employer. The black desk chair – a lucky buy at a silent auction. A hand me down wing back chair, 36” TV, a small Buddhist shrine, and bookshelves to complete the picture.
The term from my childhood would have been a study. I find I cling and use this term frequently. All the rooms in my childhood white, two-story house were appropriately labeled. The ‘Living Room,’ seldom used for anything it seemed at the time. The ‘Dining Room’ with its vast antique table, seating for 12, only used on special occasions.
Family dinner was just after 6:00pm and would draw my two older brothers and I from the ‘Rec Room’ in the basement or our individual bedrooms, into the kitchen nook to be seated at a curly wrought iron Sundae shop table. The stark white laminate (called arborite in those days) polished to dullness under the constant scrutiny of my mother’s dishcloth.
With the dishes rinsed and tucked away and the garish overhead fluorescent light extinguished, my parents would retire to the ‘den’ to read the evening newspaper and drink their coffee. Later my father would occupy his desk in his ‘study’. The clatter of his ‘adding machine’ becoming quieter over the years as he migrated from mechanical, to first generation digital, then years after to a computer.
Only now do I realize his gift of concentration. Somehow he managed his way through stacks of ledgers and memos as my brothers and I came and went. It surprises me now that we were able to watch as much television as we did, (we had the first color tv in the neighborhood) without distracting him. Then again, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the programming options were limited as were the times of day you could watch.
In my modern world, it isn’t my children that lift my head from the page and cause my pen to halt. Why else would we have two other televisions and a second computer but to occupy children and create a bubble of isolation for me? The real demon is all the associations that ground me in the practical world and lure me onto other tasks. Bills to pay, files to organize, emails to reply to, naps to be taken, and the worst of all, television shows and movies. My study is a place I will reserve for ‘editor mind’, web research, and managing the details of a modern middle class family home.
Writing for me needs to be in the world amongst many anonymous witnesses. Let the search for a coffee shop begin!