The Bedroom in the Basement Has Been My Haven During This Strange Year

updated Dec 1, 2020
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There’s probably never been a calendar year where we’ve spent more time at home than this one. This story is part of Apartment Therapy’s Love Letters to Home series, which thanks our homes for all they’ve done for us in 2020.

You can read more love letters here before writing one of your own.

To my bedroom in the basement,

I’ve been struggling with writing this letter, because words can’t quite capture the essence of my childhood home and everything it is. But there is one part of the house—the basement—that’s seen me through the darkest days of 2020, and I want to thank you for helping me find solace in the midst of this hellish year.

We’re not strangers, you and I. I found comfort and love and fun in the basement long before you were officially my bedroom. You were never just a basement; a place where we put the laundry and storage and holiday decorations. That was only half of you, and the other half, separated by wood paneled folding doors, was a bedroom. First you belonged to my oldest sister, then to my middle sister, and now you’ve been all mine for the past year. You weren’t just a room I visited when I wanted to play on my Playstation or dance around in while the stereo blasted my favorite CDs. Now you’re like a mini-apartment: a place where I go to and find comfort, a place I can decorate and rearrange to reflect who I am now. 

It wasn’t like that at first. I moved back home when Mom passed away in September 2019. I gave up my apartment and gradually moved my belongings back home so I could take care of Dad. At the time, the basement was just a place I slept in. There was clutter everywhere—no real thought put into it just yet. With everything that was happening: giving up my apartment, Mom passing, being the caretaker for my elderly father, plus working full-time at my now former place of employment, there was really no time to make it properly mine. I used it just to sleep and get dressed, but not for comfort. 

COVID-19 changed everything. I lost my job and was forced to stay at home throughout the winter and then the coming spring and summer. Caring for my father kept me busy—the time we spent together as a family brought us closer than ever before—but in my downtime I needed a space that was mine. It took time and a bit of money, and slowly but surely the basement became mine.

Although it’s easy for the room to get messy, the clutter feels like part of the coziness of it. I have a lot of books on display; a mini library of Indigenous books ranging from fiction, poems, memoirs, and historical accounts, but also my old college textbooks, fiction, poetry and YA books that I find comfort in, and artbooks for a few of my favorite video games. There are also several shelves dedicated to make up, art, and cosplay. The paintings I’ve created over the years hang on the walls, including the last gift I ever gave my mother: a painting of a sunset on a beach with two palm trees. I painted it in the kitchen of this home the week before she died. She was able to see it and appreciate it even when she was bedridden. Since there was no room to hang it up in her room, I display it in mine. I think of her every time I see it.

Maybe I could have arranged my room into something more organized and neat. Maybe I could’ve picked one theme and stuck to it. Instead I chose an expression of the things I loved: books, art, Indigenous art and literature, and a bit of a New Age flair. While I don’t identify as Wiccan, I love New Age shops and the aesthetic of it. My room has tarot cards, incense holders, many candles, a salt rock lamp, a little cauldron, a chalice, and many Oracle and Tarot Cards. 

Crystals of every kind shimmer on my headboard shelves, each one holding specific metaphysical meanings: intuition, relaxation, grounding, creativity, and healing. I can escape down here knowing I won’t be disturbed if I turn off my lamps and light the room with candles, the smokey, fragrance of incense filling the room, the salt lamp glowing, and my music playing from either my laptop or the Playstation 4. I can play video games or can draw, paint, and write down here, curled up on my bed or my small sofa, wrapped in a blanket from Beyond Buckskin. 

To my basement and bedroom, I want to thank you for helping me regain a sense of self that I thought was lost to me. In a time when the world felt like a dark place to be with tyrannical world leaders, a pandemic, and the loss of a loved one, you helped me to remember what it means to bring out the things I love about myself. Each room in my childhood home has its own story of love and memories, but none so much as you. I am happy that we have each other again. 

All of my love and thanks,