Article - Andrea Rose / Photos - Cassie Sullivan
Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, the world of opportunity that is ‘adulthood’ feels as though it’s banging down my door with angry, urgent fists. When all I feel like doing is seeing what might happen if I lock the door, turn off my phone and just don’t for a day, the place that I retreat to in my mind is always the same: the bedroom of 22-year-old me. The light fell gently in that corner room, high up in the trees of Northern California. Every day at the same time the honeyed sunset melted through my curtainless windows and sent me into a daydream.
There was a poster of the anatomy of 24 different butterflies which hung above my bed in the rainbow’s vintage version of itself; faded, gentle. The window sill by the head of the bed was stacked high with every version of my favourite kind of pillow, all welcoming me with a different pattern, different op shop origin, different age of velvet. I spent countless hours leaning into those pillows like they were the arms of a long lost relative who gave sage advice and cooked a comforting shepherds pie. The trinket collection I had was small, curated, and lined up precisely on the thrice-white-painted windowsill by the closet. I didn’t have much, but I had plenty in the way of objects that only meant the world to me. The means beyond $400 a month escaped me, and two part time jobs seemed reasonable exchange for my vagabond freedom. Life was simpler then, the light was honey, and I was happy.
Time, as it does for all of us, often drags me down the rabbit hole of believing that life is far more crucial, immediate, and full of stuff than it all needs to be. As rich and beautiful as it can be, I’ve never been immune to the trap of the rat race and sometimes it can be weeks before I realise that I’ve entirely neglected taking a moment to stop and breathe.
When I was a little girl, I had hiding spaces that provided reprieve from the voices and demands of the world around me. The introverted little creature that I was would spend all the hours tearing pages out of her favourite books and pinning them to the wall of her cubby house, so she could look at them often. The most important activity on those days was laying on the wool blanket I’d dragged up from my house and staring at the afternoon light traveling and changing across my newly adorned wall collage. It’s enough to just think of times like those and issue a sigh of relief, isn’t it?
Somehow beyond the age of 22, I lost that skill for creating a safe place for my mind to retreat and create. At the peak of my exhaustion, I ask myself: Do we just not get those places in an adult life? Is a fortress of art and solitude only a feature of the young and carefree? Sadly, the honey coloured day dreams of my former life must be all I’ll ever get when it comes to the saving grace of rest and inspiration.
Before I opened the door, I had no idea what I was in for. A friend had heard my pleas for rest and said, “I’ve got just the place we can go.” Through the winding hills of Tasmania’s middle, my skepticism grew stronger the more isolated we became and it reached its peak of dismay when I found myself standing at one of many doors in this derelict fishing village. Where on earth…?
But unlocking that door and stepping into Captains Rest, to my utter surprise, was like stepping into another world. All felt calm, warm, and welcoming; every corner a story, every pillow like an embrace from a friend. The trinkets gathered together in impossible synergy, occupying the corners of every room felt so embedded into the home’s history in a way that offered beauty without any expectation. Immediately I felt the warmth return to my body and my mind the same way it did when the afternoon sun poured through those corner Californian windows. I felt at home.
The value, I believe, in these sacred spaces of rest increase year after year of adulthood’s constant demands. We may not remember that we need to escape to the safe, but we do. And somehow, what’s been built in that derelict corner of Strahan’s rainy peninsula fulfilled all the wishes of my weary mind, and more.