Rooms are like clothes and photographs- they tell stories. As I look around mine this afternoon- my mind goes tripping down the trails of my life… remembering what has been that has brought what I see around me. (from “Room Rhapsody,” by L.E. Fiore)L.E. Fiore takes us on a tour of one room, browsing bookshelves and speculating on what is tucked inside a “mystery drawer.” Just as she said, the items tell stories and offer glimpses of this young woman’s life: the places she’s traveled, the books she’s read, and the kind of thinker and writer she is.At the end, she wonders what she would find in the reader’s room, and what it would tell about him or her…an invitation, of course, for me to look around at this room and tell stories.As I scan this space, I realize my stories will be much less romantic than hers. She has, for example, a tapestry from India gracing her wall. I, on the other hand, have a framed print originally from Target that I bought at Goodwill for $8.99. I know this because I left the price tag stuck on the back of the frame and checked. I’m classy like that.Under that cheap print are a few family photos, including some of my husband and me as children. Our parents gave them to us already framed, so over the years we have simply brought them home and propped them on top of the two-drawer filing cabinet.Bookshelves dominate this room, and what a mixture of titles! Along one shelf is the What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know series by E.D. Hirsch along with several other home education books. Directly below that, a shelf of mostly devotional books collected over the years. Under that, poetry. Next shelf is a mixture of paperbacks that includes everything from The Two Towers and Gods and Generals to Billy Graham’s autobiography and Peace Like a River. I have shelves of classic American and British novels, writing books, children’s stories, and cookbooks.In the cabinet where one would expect a small television set, we store music. All the CDs that have yet to be transferred to digital are stacked up with the CD player, receiver, and a tape player, because we still own some of those, as well. My husband and I were, after all, teens in the 1980s. Boxes of family photos are jammed in that same area. Below, in a drawer, are playing cards. In the storage cabinet underneath are board games.We play in this room, both games and music, because this is also the room with our piano. The piano was given to us by a friend of a friend who was redecorating her living room and no longer wanted it. Shortly after we got new keys to replace the chipped up keys that it came with, my son shoved a guitar pick between two keys so far that we couldn’t pull it out. The pick somehow slid beneath and now two keys are permanently pushed up a little higher than normal. They still function, however, and three of the four kids practice daily often (the fourth plays flute).Above me, tacked onto a bulletin board, is my first half-marathon bib number. I didn’t think I could do it, but I finished that race. The bib remains up there, a reminder that I can do more than I think I can.On the floor next to me sits a trash can with too many candy wrappers, including some from Belgium, sent to us at Christmas by my husband’s sister and her family. Chokotoff. Mmmmm….I own a small African drum that sits on a shelf in this room. I’ve never been to Africa, but one year, for reasons I can’t explain, I really wanted an authentic African drum, so my husband ordered a small one from a catalog for my birthday. I took the drum to writing class last week so the students could practice meter. Some of them had trouble figuring out iamb and trochee, anapest and dactyl. The drum helped.The drum also helps me feel connected to my father-in-law’s humanitarian/mission work in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he is working with the Congolese people to rebuild an area in the Bandundu province. From the desk in this room, where I can see the drum on the shelf, I’ve been helping him with the Congo Open Heart website that describes the work and chronicles his current trip at the blog.The books next to my desk are a mishmash of titles that have no permanent home. I needed them for this project or that and never organized them in a way that makes sense. Even some old magazines are drooping next to a Berlitz French textbook and workbook (the language cassette tape balances precariously atop the texts); a worldview book sits next to a poetry anthology and a copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.The contents of my room, if a glimpse into my entire life, leave me realizing the variety of everyday activities we undertake morning after morning, through afternoons and into evenings. As the piano really is played and books really are read, we live, we learn, we make messes. Books are stacked sideways on the handiest shelf rather than the appropriate shelf. Sheet music is set aside on the piano bench or the floor, spreading out or piling up.I didn’t mention the paper—the piles of paper I’ve amassed and must deal with during spring break. The photo to the left is the only presentable collection. I work beside these stacks.This, too, tells a story—the story of my need to declutter, simplify and organize.It is our space and our life, though, and cluttered and disorganized as it is, we are growing and laughing and doing our best to love well.After looking around my room and writing, I sit here wondering the same thing as L.E. Fiore: what would I find in your room? And what would it tell me about you?
This post is part of Charity’s THC community-building project, “There & Back Again.”
Each Thursday, consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.
Here are Charity’s steps:
- Choose another High Calling Blogger to visit. It can be someone you have “met” before, or do what I do, and work your way through the “Member Posts” section of thehighcalling.com to meet someone new.
- Visit his blog, digesting the message until it becomes something that you can write about.
- Go back to your blog and write about it, being sure to link to the post that gave you the idea so that your readers can visit, too.
- Add the button to your blog so your readers know you are participating in “There and Back Again.”
- Go back to the Network blog and leave a comment so your new friend can feel the link love!
- Complete the journey by returning here, to Wide Open Spaces, and enter your link so that we all can benefit from the new High Calling connection you have made.
Credit: Images of Ann Kroeker’s living room by Ann Kroeker.