The house that sanity built
I have just awoken from my first sleepover in my new house. After more than two years living with my parents by the riverside, I have flown the nest for the second time to a beautiful historic house on the north side of town.
Just two months ago, a move towards independence was unthinkable to me. Years of struggling with mental illness and accompanying long periods of self medication, rendering independent living untenable, had destroyed my self-confidence. Sadly, I had come to rely on my parents to keep me healthy and alive. So it is with amazement that I now find myself in my very own space, alone and happily so. How quickly things can change.
The turning point for me was my sojourn at the private psychiatric clinic I fondly refer to as Club Loco. Although I initially found myself there in a time of crisis, facing the challenge of taking ownership of my treatment and spending a measure of time somewhere away from home independently, albeit somewhere safe and nurturing, provided me with great unexpected confidence.
I have also been blessed with the generosity of an extraordinary friend, owner of Grafton’s newest dining establishment No. 1 Duke Street, who has taken on the project of converting a nineteenth-century inn into a boutique guest house. I am to be the caretaker in this undertaking. But, referring to me as her ‘writer in residence’, Liza has seen an opportunity for mutual benefit. I will undertake the simply satisfying work of greeting guests, laundering sheets and cleaning bathrooms, and in exchange, be given the space and opportunity to grow and write in my own space and time.
Over the past week, I have made this space my own. Being the first time I have lived alone, as well as the first time in many years I have had the motivation and strength to create a peaceful sense of space, I have filled these light, spacious rooms only with objects that I love; created a reflection of myself in each strategically-placed ceramic pineapple, thrift-store painting and well-thumbed book.
It is a joy to once again live in an old building, each room echoing the presence of residents past. It is a thrill to be a part of its story; may the story I write here be a happy one.