Sunday, April 25, 2010


I'm not sitting where I usually would be when writing. The chair is wrong. The wall behind my computer isn't right. The items I see in my peripheral vision aren't what I expect.

I'm a displaced person in my own home.

I never realized how much of a person of habit I'd become when it came to writing. My home office wasn't much to speak of, really. It was just a desk made of a varnished door resting on a filing cabinet and wire shelving units but it was my desk, my office chair, my blank wall with the small casement window above.

My wife's desk was to my left at a 90-degree angle but she never used it, preferring to write on her laptop upstairs in the living room. The "home entertainment" area with the couches and TV was off to my right and my noise-canceling headphones were always handy for when I needed to write when Jennifer wanted to watch TV. Eventually, in a larger future house, I hope to have a home office that will be mine, with a door that shuts and a window that looks out over something rather than providing a ground level view of the trunks of the arbor vitae growing along our property line. But for now, that desk and blank wall were my place to go, to immerse myself in writing over the last 5 years, and I now find myself displaced, my desk and chair unavailable to me as a result of THE FLOOD.

Everything has been moved out of the basement except the basic furniture. The basement is dry but in need of serious work before we can move our stuff back down there. And so I had no choice but to relocate. However, there was really no place to go. The guest room/Jennifer's studio is now a warehouse (and she is cut off from the antique drafting table I bought her years ago). Neither the bedroom nor the living room are suitable places for my iMac and as a result, I find myself in the kitchen.

There is a desk of sorts built into the wall between the fridge and one wall and here I find myself, perched on Jenn's drafting table chair with a phone next to my ear and the kitchen appliances all within 6-7 feet of me. My feet don't touch the ground and the chair just doesn't feel right. There's a window directly behind my computer and in my line of sight and, even with the blinds shut, random flickers of movement still catch my eye.

In the weeks following THE FLOOD and the relocation of stuff within the house, I haven't been able to write. I've barely even visited my blogs and postings to Facebook have been sporadic.

Part of it was just a lack of motivation...dealing with the water that filled our basement and the ongoing recovery just took a lot out of me.

But I've come to realize that the greater part of it was just that my habits and environment had been so dramatically disrupted. I'm not sitting where I expect to be or where I'm really comfortable. There's visual stimuli that I'm not used to, and in truth, I'm finding it hard to concentrate when my legs are swinging freely or tucked into the rail at the base of the drafting chair.

In the grand scheme of things, I have nothing to complain about and I know that. We didn't have to evacuate. No one was hurt and the items that we lost are virtually all replaceable.

However, amidst all of the physical damage and stuff we've had to discard, I've discovered that I lost my sense of place. It's strange. When I'm traveling, I can plunk myself down with my laptop and write wherever I happen to be. But when I'm at home, I am a creature of habit, habits that have been disrupted along with my environment. Now I find myself having to learn new habits and how to adjust to this new (and hopefully temporary) writing space. I need to rediscover...or sense of place.

And so I sit here, perched above the kitchen floor, trying to figure out what to do with my feet, ignoring the blinds and the window directly in front of my eyes, my noise-canceling headphones over my ears, and the soundtrack to "The Visitor" playing quietly to block out the incidental noise as I force myself to learn how to write again in this new space and not feel displaced anymore.

And when I'm done here, I'll turn my eyes back to the basement and the next stage in recovering down there with an eye toward eventually reclaiming my old, habit-filled space, at least for the time being.

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