I’ve never had a room of my own until now. In my current home I have what I call my “study.”
My study has only the essentials: a large table for a desk, on which sets a computer; a small rolling file cart under the table; two bookshelves; a small chest of drawers, which serves as a supply cabinet; a floor hi-fi given to me 50 years ago; a portable CD player; a massage chair; and a small couch, which can serve as a twin bed for an overnight visitor.
The lighting is simple: one floor lamp next to the desk and a small rectangular stained-glass lamp on the dresser. The room is carpeted, which deadens noise. There is no TV, and the computer is used almost exclusively for word processing.
I call it my study, but it could also be my meditation room — a place for thinking and reflection.
It may seem odd that I’ve never had a room of my own, but circumstances worked against that. Most of the time the kitchen table in my home served as my work area. When computers entered my life, I used PCs in open conversation areas.
The closest I came to a room of my own was a small space for several months 45 years ago in my in-laws’ undeveloped attic, brutally hot in the summer, freezing in the winter and frequently invaded by birds and squirrels.
When my wife Sandy and I recently moved into our current home in Los Banos, she suggested I use what had been the office of the previous owner as my own “man cave.” I thanked her and took her up on it. However, it is not a “man cave”; it’s a “study.”
A study connotes something wonderful: a sanctuary where the life of the mind can thrive, where music, literature, art and nature are highlighted, encouraging reflection and imagination.
Regarding music, Los Banos is fortunate to have two accessible public radio stations, one out of Fresno (KVPR at 89.3) and one out of Sacramento, with a repeating tower not far from Los Banos (KXSR in Groveland/Sonora at 91.7). I listen to and enjoy both stations, but I keep my hi-fi tuned to 91.7, which plays music 24 hours—classical during the day and jazz from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
KXSR happens to play music that I particularly enjoy, by classical composers like Dvorak, Chopin, Debussy, Bach and Mozart, and jazz artists like Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Diana Krall and Antonio Carlos Jobin.
When my wife or I use the massage chair or simply unwind and pleasant music is on the hi-fi, the cares and pains of the day seem, at least for a while, to go away.
The books in my study are important. When I moved from my previous house, I made a deliberate decision to select only those books that were especially valuable to me, about 20% of my library. (The rest I donated to the MEChA Club at the local college campus for their book sales.)
I have in my study’s bookcases selected books by writers that have influenced my life and continue to do so, like Thoreau, Shakespeare, Donne, Hopkins, Updike, Heller, Merton and Nouwen. I also have books about significant places I’ve lived in or visited, including Chicago, Prague and Tuscany.
And although most of the books related to artists and architects I admire are kept in Sandy’s room, I have a few in my study about Frank Lloyd Wright, Hiroshige and Vincent Van Gogh.
Which reminds me: Sandy has a room of her own in our current home, too. She calls it her office, which includes a computer, many books and files. She also has a trundle bed, which serves as a couch that can accommodate several overnight family visitors.
I think it’s good for a husband and wife to have rooms of their own. I realize that’s a rare pleasure, especially when they’re young and raising children. Sandy and I are lucky to have these rooms after our child-rearing days.
Separate rooms reflect my thoughts about marriage. I’ve always imagined a wife and husband as two trees planted close to each other. Together they create harmonious shade and comfort. But they keep their individuality, with their own roots, trunks and branches.
In this perspective it’s healthy for a husband and wife to develop and follow their own individual talents and interests, sometimes in their own rooms, and then bring them together for themselves, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I hope, dear reader, that now or someday you have a room of your own reflecting your unique desires and that it provides for you as much pleasure, comfort and consolation as mine does.
On another note: On Sept. 5 Joe Gutierrez is sponsoring a “meet and greet” for the new dean of the Los Banos Campus of Merced College, Lonita Cordova. The public is invited to come between 5:30 and 7 p.m. that Thursday to listen to and talk with Dean Cordova at Gutierrez’s State Farm Office, 964 J St.