In 2001, we tore down our freestanding garage and built a new one with a bonus room on the second story. Our boys were teenagers then and our 1,100 square foot home felt too tiny, bursting with books and toys and sports equipment. It took months to find an architect, agree on materials for the floor and the linoleum for the bathroom. Due to zoning laws, we couldn’t install a closet or shower but we furnished it with a sleeper sofa, desk, TV and plenty of bookcases. In the small loft space, we placed a single mattress and I used to read up there, escaping from the noise and distractions in the house. The boys used the room when their friends came over or used it to find their own quiet space.
After my husband’s brain injury, we used the room less. It was easier to keep most of our activity on the ground floor of the house. When the boys moved out of the house for college, I converted the room for exercise. I bought a treadmill and a stationary recumbent bike. After long days at work, my husband and I would have dinner and then go upstairs. I watched all the seasons of The Sopranos, The Wire and the Kurt Wallender series in Swedish while I sweated on the treadmill and my husband pedaled his bike.
Then I began our workout sessions three days a week and didn’t use the treadmill much. After retirement, I took daily walks in the neighborhood and didn’t need the treadmill. The upstairs room was mostly used as a guest room when family or friends visited from out of town. I gave away the recumbent bike after my husband died and just recently, gave away the treadmill.
Now the upstairs room is being used for yoga once a week with my neighbors. The slanted ceiling provides a feeling of airiness and the cork floors are warm and soft to our bare feet. As I stretch out on the yoga mat, I scan the titles of the books on the shelves houses our family’s reading history. There are the boy’s World War II books, the collection of classic fiction from the boys’ high school, volumes of Jewish folk tales and philosophy from my mother-in-law, my quilting reference books, large coffee table travel books and all my hardback mystery novels. I gaze out the window and can see the top of our avocado tree swaying in the wind, framed by the deep blue of the afternoon sky. I am soothed by the soft dulcet voice of our yoga instructor, Bea, as she guides our poses.
Yoga feels like the perfect use for this room which has adapted to every change in our family. It continues to provide comfort with each new purpose.