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A Candlelit Sanctuary

February 24, 2009

When I was a kid, places of sanctuary were necessary. I had my own bedroom and that was fine, but it was too ordinary. It was too known. I think I must have always been a little anti-social, because I just liked having special places no one else knew about, where no one could find me. It was childishly romantic.

I had a few favorite places. The first one that comes to mind is my closet. It seems silly, since the closet was in my room and therefore still known, but on more than one occasion my mom would walk into the room already talking, expecting to find me, and then realize I wasn’t there and walk out to look for me elsewhere. I was there. I was in the closet.

The closet had a light in it, and was fairly large thing with two doors, a whole shelving system, and room to spare on the floor. I would pile up pillows and blankets and stuffed animals in the right corner and just chill out. Sometimes I’d have the light on, sometimes I’d hang out with my brother’s playskool flashlight, which depending on the way you had it set, would shine red, green or white. I would read books, or write in my journal, or draw pictures. Sometimes I’d just sit and think. Daydream. I was always a good daydreamer.

Another place that comes to mind is the park that was just down the street from the elementary school. I would hop on my bike with my copy of Harriet the Spy and ride across town, climb up into this sort of floating good year tire, and sit there and read for hours. It wasn’t like going to the main park on the highway– it was quiet, I almost never ran into other kids. The wind would blow and the sun would shine and the leaves would change colors and fall to the ground and I’d watch the people across the street and take mental notes on their doings, just like Harriet would have.

The last was the tree in our front yard. There used to be two matching trees, and my brother claimed one as his own and I claimed the other. A wind storm knocked my brother’s tree right on top of the house, but mine stood strong. I was never a real tree climber but I had that one figured out. I knew exactly how to get to different parts of the tree and was always looking for ways to climb higher and higher. That’s a place I used to take a journal, or go to sit when I’d had a fight with my parents or even talk on the phone with Em. I have pictures from the summer between junior high and high school hanging out with my friends in that tree. It was a good tree.

I always had a sanctuary.

I don’t know exactly when I grew out of the need for sanctuary. I don’t think I ever really did, it’s just that I kind of ran out of places to go. When my mom and I painted my walls purple my sophomore year of high school, and I got to decorate it as I pleased, that room became my special place. It was full of my life- pieces of garland, firefly lights, candles, fake flower leis and photos everywhere… To this day I still miss that room because I have never since had one place where I could feel so entirely me.

And last night I needed a place like that.

I love having a house. I love my roommate, who is the peachiest peach of them all. I love how well we share the space. But we have not had the resources to make this house ours yet. I’ve got little things here and there that remind me it’s mine, that remind me it’s well on it’s way to becoming my sanctuary in full, but right now, it’s just bits and pieces.

Except for the bathroom.

The bathroom came together the first night I was here. It’s silly, but my bathroom is beautiful. It’s tiny, there’s not nearly enough storage, and I guess I could stand to hang something on the wall. But it’s mine, it’s done, and I love it.

I used to shower at night, and I love to shower at night, but for this reason and that I’ve slowly transitioned to morning showers and while that definitely has its pleasantness as well, I miss night showers. I’ve been hanging out in my pajamas all day, and therefore had not showered, so I decided, what the heck. I took a nice, long, hot shower, wrapped myself up in a towel, and realized I had no real desire to go back to what I was doing or to start anything new at that point. I lit the candles sitting on the counter, turned off the lights, and sat on my blue fuzzy rug, leaning up against the bathtub. I sat there for an hour. Just hanging out. Thinking.

I’m still a good daydreamer.

Have you ever looked at yourself in the candlelight? I recommend it. For me, the darkness masks the little things here and there that cause my self-consciousness and the candlelight lets what I think is beautiful about me shine through. And wrapped up in a towel, or not, there’s nothing there but me to worry about. I’m not hiding. I’m not pretending. I’m just myself, and that is beautiful.

We should all have a sanctuary.
We should all have a little more candlelight in our lives.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. verybadcat permalink
    February 24, 2009 10:00 pm

    You know, maybe that’s what I need! I love my husband, and my critters, and it’s just us, so we never close doors or anything. All of my space is shared space. Maybe I just need a closed door bath- by candlelight.

    Thanks for posting this. :)

  2. theoddduckling permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:07 am

    I like moonlight best. I use to sit on my windowsill and just read with the light from my desk lamp shining behind me. That or watch the moon or stars dance.

    – Kendall

  3. Nico permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:09 am

    I was going to say something about R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet but I’ll just leave it at that.

  4. Eric Shonkwiler permalink
    February 25, 2009 12:48 am

    Nico is awful. You’re awful, Nico!

    You do a wonderful job of capturing childhood in your posts. Particularly ones discussing your father. Brings me back to my younger days, a little.

  5. courtney permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:26 am

    @verybadcat- your welcome :) glad i could be of some inspiration!

    @theoddduckling- one summer we did a huge kitchen remodel and doubled its size, but until we knocked the original wall out it was more like having a huge new deck– i’d sit in the bay window and look up at the moon every night until they finally added the glass :)

    @eric- nico’s lucky i love him. :) and thank you. i’m totally just a daddy’s girl, it’s the truth.

  6. molly permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:40 am

    I still love a good nook. Something about being “enclosed” is comforting I think :) And I totally agree with the soothingness (is that a word? i don’t think so) of candlelight.

  7. molly permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:40 am

    I still love a good nook. Something about being “enclosed” is comforting I think :) And I totally agree with the soothingness (is that a word? i don’t think so) of candlelight.

  8. Kyla Bea permalink
    February 25, 2009 4:14 am

    That's what I adore about my little craft room. With the domed ceilings and the little day bed you just feel totally safe & quiet. That's a rare feeling for adults!

  9. Glamorous Redneck permalink
    February 25, 2009 4:46 am

    I totally did the closet thing too! I was so sad when we moved out of our apartment and into a house where I had NO closet whatsoever! I wish we would have known each other when we were little, because we would have been great friends–with secret sanctuaries to get away to when the world was too much! :)

  10. Just Playing Pretend permalink
    February 25, 2009 6:05 am

    My dad built a shed with a “play place” in the roof for me to have a sanctuary in. I spent hours there, reading and writing. It was my place. This post made me miss that.

  11. mary evelyn permalink
    February 25, 2009 2:41 pm

    that is so funny you had your closet as your special place when you were a kid. so did i! i had a walk in closet with a window, and a big shelf like thing in the corner. i would climb up on top of those shelves, and on the long, hanger shelf across from me i would have my special stuff, like sketch books, animals, journals, little boxes of treasures. it was my place to go and get away from things.

    isn’t it funny that when we’re little we feel the need to create a space that’s ours? i miss that.

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