A (Very Small) Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf had it right. People need a place to escape the rigors of social interaction otherwise known as life. Some of us need it more than others. You closet introverts know who you are.

I used to fight my introverted self. It isn’t the preferred category. The extrovert catches the worm. The introvert agonizes over the proper approach to the worm, whether or not the worm will be receptive to the advances, rehearses a dozen different speeches to break the ice and by then the worm is gone.

When Pasek asks me if I want to rent the place next door while mine is being renovated, I say, “Oh no. I’ll stay in my house during the construction.”

“No,” he says.

“Yes,” I say. “It’s okay, I like building projects.”

“No,” he says. Pasek is the project manager. Normally I would defer to his greater knowledge of best building practices in Bali. But this time I’m adamant.

“Yes,” I say, and that’s the final word.

It begins innocently enough. I arrange the sofa and chairs in my open living area so the crew can relax while they eat breakfast and lunch. I buy coffee, tea, and sugar for their morning and afternoon beverages. I make the extra bathroom available for their personal needs. In my mind it’s like a very long tea party and I’m the ultimate hostess.

My yoga and meditation routine gets pushed to 6 a.m. so I can be finished before the noise starts.

During the day I sit with my laptop at the dining table so I can watch the work while I write.

After a month the dirt and noise encroach. I remove the dining table and chairs, shove the sofa against the back wall, and relocate my writing to the front terrace. Not sturdy enough for constant use, the sofa breaks. That too is removed. Then the bags of concrete arrive and take over the terrace.

The desk in my bedroom becomes my island of calm.

A day later, the concrete for the new second floor is poured. Without warning, gray cement water rains through the bamboo ceilings of both bedrooms flooding them in minutes. I lurch away from the desk and run for buckets, mops, rags, anything to staunch the flow. I feel my enthusiasm slip a few notches.

Hours later, with the help of Ketut, things are drying.

P1060554 P1060555

“Roof go tomorrow,” he announces as we return the furnishings to their original places. “Maybe furniture move, move.”

“The roof? Tomorrow?” I squeak.


“Ya,” he says.

We assess the situation and I send him to buy tarps. The next morning I get up with a plan. There’s space in my extra large bathroom for the wardrobe and the chest of drawers. If I move those things out of the bedroom and arrange everything else at the far end to avoid possible future flooding from the unprotected area, the absence of a roof should matter less. I set to work. By the time Ketut comes back I’ve finished.

“Have help?” he asks, as he eyes the large, heavy wardrobe and chest now sitting in the bathroom.

“No,” I say. “I did it myself.”

“Not broken?” he asks.

“No, not me and not the furniture.” He laughs.

P1060865I change the bedding, arrange the side tables and hang a few things on the wall. Not bad. I sink into a chair and gaze at my handiwork. With the bulky items out of sight in the bathroom, the space feels larger. And it looks more like a studio apartment than a bedroom, granted a tiny studio, but the energy of it has shifted.

It’s a refuge. It contains everything I need.

Pasek says in two months the work will be finished. Yesterday two months would have sounded like twenty years. But now I have a place that feels organized and moderately clean where I can shut the door and claim private time. I’ve banished the ridiculous notion that I’m entertaining guests. Enthusiasm has resurfaced. I’ll be fine. All I need is a nook, an undisturbed corner where I can duck away to recharge my introverted batteries…a (very small) room of my own.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dwytt@comcast.net
    May 30, 2014 @ 11:25:32

    I love reading your exceptional writing and hearing about your interesting life.  lots of love Nisey



  2. sageblessings
    May 30, 2014 @ 12:01:01

    It seems you have found some very good solutions to maintain your “room”…..it is small now so it can be huge later. Whoa, are you going to be in heaven (or close to!) when home is complete.



  3. Jan Borchers
    May 30, 2014 @ 23:54:23

    I could picture every step of this! You are such a trooper :-). (how did you get that furniture into your bathroom single-handedly?!) Many times I wanted to bail out of my home while construction was going on around me but never did. All in all, I think your whole addition and remodel will not take as long as my reconstruction! They will re-refinish the floors next week, still waiting on what to do about the carpeting.

    I know you will love your new second story. Say hello to my 2 favorite Bali guys, Ketut and Pasek 🙂



  4. Lottie Nevin
    May 31, 2014 @ 03:22:12

    I was nodding my head the whole time that I was reading this. I totally understand your desire for a place that you can hole up in and call your own. Even if it’s tiny, it’s better than nothing.

    I had the same problem when we were doing the first set of renovations here. The noise, the dust, the cold, the rubble, all I wanted was a refuge, somewhere to write, think and read. But it was impossible as the entire house was being re-wired. What seemed like an eternity, never ending chaos, has now finished and I have my space. It’s empty but in two weeks my chair, table, books and lamp shall be arriving from London. Guess how happy I am!

    Sherry, your building work sounds like it’s going well and quite quickly? I’m excited for you – it sounds like you are going to have a very lovely home at the end of it.



  5. healingpilgrim
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 07:57:14

    Can’t wait to hear more tales from the prolonged Bali Tea Party! Lovin’ it… xo



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