18 November 2014

The Spare Room

Worn In
There was a room in my house that only I knew about. You got there through a half door in my sister’s closet. I haven’t been in that closet in years, but I believe the half door is real. The room itself is impossible, which isn't to say that it’s not real, only that it can’t be. We’re not talking about a bit of a cubby, a utility space where one could stash a journal or a treasure box or even one’s own small self. The secret room was whole room, as big as any of other bedrooms in the house but instead of being crammed with furniture it was empty and it’s only appeal was that is was a room entirely devoid of stuff.  There was no point in putting a wardrobe in there after all. The room itself was already in Narnia.

At some point early in my childhood my parents built an addition on their house so that they would have a bigger bedroom for themselves and my sister and I would each have our own bedroom. I remember the addition being built, and I remember sharing a room with my sister, so I think I must have been five or six when it happened and the dreams must have started before then.

It is not a room I imagined on purpose. I dreamed it, repeatedly throughout my childhood, sometimes rediscovering it, sometimes simply arriving from sleep directly into the room. It was a haven. Enough space to play with friends, or to read a book entirely alone.

Even after I moved out of the shared bedroom into my own room, I still went to the secret room sometimes, and the entrance remained firmly, stubbornly in my sister’s closet. If it had been a real room that would have been a serious problem, because getting to the secret room would have become increasingly difficult. Big sisters are not generally known for enjoying having little sisters creeping about opening real doors to impossible places.

My mother still lives in the house I grew up in, and if the family pattern holds I’ll be at least in my fifties before I have to say goodbye to the house. When it is emptied, all those years from now, and I walk through one last time, I will check the closet for the door which I’m sure is real, but I may not open it, because a cubby full of plumbing would be such a disappointment.

Inspired by Justine’s post about keys.


  1. I love this. Just the other day, we were saying something like this -- about a door that opened into a room that was impossible -- I wish I could remember where it was. And yes, better to keep those doors shut, perhaps, except in our imaginations.

  2. I can confirm that the door was there. I'm glad it took you someplace useful. It never did that for me, though I often desperately wished it would.

  3. My friend's house has a room just like this! You have to go through the walk-in closet in their master bedroom to get to it, but then you're in a decent-sized space, maybe tight for a bedroom but an awesome playroom, carpeted and finished, with a window in the gable end. I have no idea what it was designed for, but it seems the stuff of fantasy absolutely.

  4. You've been blogging and I've been not paying attention!
    I have a room like this in my dreams, even though I had a whole bedroom of my own and it was in my closet. My closet went back all the way behind the wall, but in my dream it's an enormous room with space to stand up and walk around. I still dream it sometimes.

    1. I wonder if all children have secret rooms.

    2. I wonder if all children have secret rooms.



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