Prompt: Describe your ideal day off. What would you do with your time?
From January through April 2007, I had the privilege of going to school in a Jacobethan Manor in the English country side. Harlaxton Manor was and remains beautiful, a storied, textured manor with hidden passages, gorgeous architecture, and one pissed off swan named Bob. However, I, like about a hundred other students, wasn’t able to live in the Manor but instead had the Carriage House.
The Carriage House was cold as fuck. Since it was never really meant to house anyone of importance and was renovated in the ‘80s to allow large influxes of students in, no one ever really paid attention to its insulation, various drafts, or the building material used to partition the walls. Oh, it had heat, but it was central so you couldn’t change it from room to room, meaning that some rooms were comfortable while others could give you freezer burn or heat stroke.
I had a freezer burn room. Every night I would huddle in my bed under sweaters, jackets, and as many blankets as I could coerce from the school and shiver. It was never enough, and I doubt I spent a warm night there. To help me get to sleep, I would fantasize about my perfect afternoon – I would be lying on a warm, brown leather couch dozing, a crocheted afghan pulled up tight over one shoulder. I’d be in a room with hardwood floors, thick circular rugs, and a wall of windows. The sun would be pouring through them, warming the room and spicing it with the scent of leather, cedar, and books. I would be lying in that beam of light, feeling it resting lightly on my skin and hair. I would be safe, comfortable, and, above all, warm. That’s what I would focus on night after night, delving deep into my imagination to remember what warmth was like, it feel it on my skin, and to project myself to that perfect, comfortable place where everything was calm, peaceful, and a comfortable temperature.
I’ve revisited that fantasy several times over the years, most notably when I lived in Ukraine and had another frigid apartment. Sometimes I extend it out farther, noting that there’s a big fireplace in the room that I can start a fire in, warming the room on cold nights and covering the walls with orange, flickering lights. The room is a library, well-stocked with shelf upon shelf of books and several different but always highly comfortable couches and chairs. The layout can change with the room shrinking or expanding, gaining a lofted level or a writing desk, and various other small, cosmetic changes, but it remains my safe place. It remains the place I want to one day create and go to. When I am cold, tired, and frantically worried, I remember it and think about the wonderful days I will spend in it, lounging, reading, being warm, feeling safe and secure, and I draw a small measure of strength from it. It is my magic room, my perfect space, and it is always there for me.
* Photo taken from http://www.harlaxton.co.uk/wordpress/