Today I unpacked the last boxes from my office at home, and this got me thinking about a couple of things; #1 – why has it taken so long? and #2 – why am I calling that room my “home office”? Let me tackle those one at a time. I will say, right off the bat, that this all seemed pretty significant to me and the feeling that I had as the last few things were put on shelves (or thrown away … having realized upon re-examination that what seemed worthy of keeping was just going to be more “junk” at home) was one of true liberation. My friend Esther was coming for the weekend (and did, we had a great time) and so I needed to get those last boxes – which were cluttering up the room (more about the room in a minute) taken care of. Emptied. Sorted out. Put away. There, it’s done! I’m really not going back. I’m free!
The office that I vacated at the end of October was one that I’d been in – off and on – for over 10 years. I’d coordinated a number of different major projects from that office which means I’d accumulated things that connected to teacher standards (and professional development requirements), curriculum, special education, childhood obesity, ESL and an array of other things connected to education. For quite some time before retiring I’d been sorting through the things in my office and deciding what to throw away, what to pass along, and what to bring home. What I forgot to do in that process – partly because I just wanted to pack up and get it done – was to think through what I’d really need in my new life. Of course, that would be tricky to do since I’m still deciding what that new life should be. I’m still not sure about that but it is really nice to know that the boxes are emptied, another large garbage bag is waiting by the curb, and – with a little less hanging over me – I can move on. Good stuff.
Now – on to thinking about what that room is called. Language has always been very important to me; words – I believe – are how we form our view of the world after all. I’ve struggled with how to identify that room for almost 10 years. Our little downtown Toronto home was mostly renovated when I bought it. On the second floor there are two rooms and a bathroom. One of those rooms is our bedroom. The other room is used for many things; in that room I sometimes read, exercise, write, take care of bills, provide a home-away-from-home for guests, store extra clothing and some bedding, listen to music, prepare lectures … and on and on the list goes. We’ve had several different names for that room over the years, trying to find a moniker that really works. Sometimes we’ve referred to it as the “kol bo” which is a Hebrew term usually used to describe that store on the corner that has a little bit of everything.
Most often this room gets referred to as my office … which I’m increasingly not liking. Why? I want this space to be one in which I can be creative and unencumbered by a lot of limits and rules. I don’t want it to feel like my old office … but at home. I don’t want to feel the restrictions of “office” when I’m in that room. I also don’t want it to feel like the room in which I “work” because one of the challenges I’m trying to meet is the reframing of life so that there isn’t a division between the “work me” and the “play me”.
And so I’m still searching for what to call that space. I heard my sister refer to where she works (also from home) as her studio. Does that work for me too? Not sure. What do you call a space like this in your home?
PS: I’m back in Ottawa for a few days right now. It’s a pretty calm and quiet week; no more major cooking to be done. I have managed to reupholster the dining room chairs though … always good to have a project don’t you think? Anyone – here’s an updated photo of Freida for those who’ve been asking.