Let’s pretend we are clasping steamy, too-hot mugs of tea between hands protected by bunched up sweaters. Let’s pretend we are sitting in a small sunny booth with our elbows planted defiantly on the table, and let’s discuss our safe havens.
Do you have more than one? Are they places or are they feelings? Is it the texture of a familiar, well-loved hand clasped firmly in yours, or is it perhaps the rich scent of your favorite novel greeting your nostrils as you open it to page one for the millionth time? I’m curious.
I’m in one of mine right now, in case you were wondering. If I were to invite you in, please, close the door behind you, the first thing you’d see would be my bed. It’s a small one, just large enough to accommodate a slightly-shorter-than-average 18-year-old girl as well as the occasional kitten that wanders in every so often (sometimes the clumsy calico, sometimes the timid gray one) looking for the ever sought-after perfect napping spot. On the bed you’d see a lavender bedspread and a thick, multicolored, polka-dotted blanket bunched up at the bottom, and if you asked, I’d tell you that it was a gift from a good friend from middle school and that it’s one of the few things from those years that I’ve never considered parting with, not even for a second.
You’d be sure to notice that the room has a glow at this time of night, partially from the neighbor’s too-bright garage light, but mostly from the assorted lights hung carefully from walls and draped just-so over mirrors. They are pink and multicolored and soft white, and don’t they add a lovely luminescence to this tiny space? I like to think they do.
And what color are these walls, anyways? you’d ask jokingly, Are they pink or are they purple? And I’d grin and shrug and say well, both, I guess.
You might at this point peer into the closet, the one that’s not closed off by a shuttered door, and notice the tiny bookshelf packed as tightly as possible with novels, or the puzzling pile of shoes on the floor that doesn’t seem to abide by the careful organization scheme that dictates the placement of the books and blouses and blankets.
Are you looking for a place to sit? Here, I can move my laptop and the granola bar wrappers and offer you a spot on the bed, or maybe you’d want to snuggle into the futon–yes, you can move as many of the pillows as you need to, make yourself right at home.
It’s always secretly pleasing to re-learn the joys of my small, squarish bedroom through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. Especially when they finally look over above the mirror, as you probably would at some point, and see the collage I worked on tediously all through high school until it was juuuust right. And after you’d ask me all about the carefully chosen selection of pictures and posters and postcards and poems, I’d probably still catch your eyes straying to my vibrant masterpiece here and there throughout our time together, and mine probably would, too. Even though I memorized it long ago, it’s still nice to gaze at every now and then.
Do you have a cozy little room too, somewhere? With a guitar sitting in the corner, or a bright quilted blanket crocheted by a loved one and saved for rainy days? If I were to visit, would it tell me a story about your past, your hobbies, your aspirations?
It doesn’t have to be your room, but I’d love to hear about it–about your sanctuary, that is. About the place that you feel safe to exhale that breath you’ve been holding all day, and relax, and just be you, for once.
I’ve discovered something wonderful within this past year, though, while I was busy working my way (sometimes blindly stumbling, sometimes elatedly soaring) through my first year of college. And that wonderful something was as simple as realizing that a sanctuary can be a person. Looking over at him from the passenger seat as we fly down the highway a little bit too fast, as my heart beats a little bit too fast, but in the best way. Tossing and turning all night with him in a way-too-narrow bed, but giggling, because who-cares-as-long-as-we’re-together. Laying in bed with the lights off and my eyes closed and my phone pressed to my ear, because he’s laying in his bed with his lights off and his eyes closed and his phone pressed to his ear, and it’s two a.m., and we’re talking about insignificant nothings, and we can’t stop exchanging I miss you’s and I love you’s and we don’t want to hang up, not just yet. It’s feeling happy and overwhelmed and anxious and stressed and so in love my stomach hurts, but through it all, it’s feeling safe, because I have my haven by my side, and we’re invincible, and nothing can hurt us, not when we’re together.
But while we’re apart, just for now, don’t worry, my bedroom is a pretty acceptable backup haven.