When we first moved to our home, I had dreams of converting the loft of the barn into my own palatial writer’s studio, replete with shelves of books and a bank of filing cabinets. I recalled what critic and English professor Jack Barnes had done at his farmhouse in Hiram, Maine, and was envious. In some ways, it would have been an extension of how I’d transformed what normally would have been the bedroom in my rented townhouse on the highest hill in Manchester before making the big leap that included this barn.
Several things changed during the two decades since then.
One was the shift from paper to digital, not exactly planned but let’s say inevitable, by stages. Submissions to editors and publishers no longer required printed manuscripts, for example, and with that came less need for envelopes, filing drawers of copies and correspondence. That in itself has meant I’m needing a lot less physical space to work in.
Another was our entering an empty-nest situation as the girls moved away and then my mother-in-law passed.
Financially, of course, converting the loft to year-round use was an expense I could no longer justify. Besides, why would I want to be isolated there when I had the top of the house to work in?
Realistically, my aspirations of becoming a successful author – meaning a sustainable income from royalties, workshops and appearances, and editing or coaching – never materialized. Along with that went my need for what would have been, in effect, a large office.
So here I am, in what became a kind of seasonal treehouse, one filled with things that didn’t fit into our house itself, not all of them mine, by a long shot. I’m blowing off dust and spiders while sorting through boxes, cartons, and shelves before the weather gets too cold to work up here. See this as plugging through time, past, present, and future. How many opportunities have I blown or got buried by other demands on my attention? How did we do as much as we did? Whatever happened to so-and-so? Still, I feel no impulse to reconnect in person. The time for that has long passed.
As for the open area on the floor? When’s the last time I’ve done hatha yoga? Yet one more anticipated activity that never came to fruition.
Down from the wall comes an Amish hat, the one with hole in the crown. It no longer fit that self-identity anymore, not the Plain Quaker style and practice. Out it goes, then.
Same for the three-D topographical map of the Cascade Range and Yakima. I won’t be hiking those trails anymore. Anything I do will be somewhere in Maine. Besides, if I want to check a detail, these days there’s always the Internet.
I had come to a point where I couldn’t imagine how anyone could live without a barn, or so I joked, but now I’m about to be reminded it’s possible. Others in our entourage, however, are scouting out storage units as a way of buying more time to do triage on their own possessions in the developments of any pending deal.