Past the terrible mountains of laundry, beneath the earth-quaking noise of my family, and just over the ridge of a vaccine, you will find the greatest treasure in the Land of Quarantine. It’s hidden in a mythical place. A far away respite that no one knows about but me. And now, I’m going to share that secret with you. You use it as you see fit.
Welcome to my Closet Office Kingdom!
No, I don’t mean a closet that is next to my home office. First off, I no longer have a home office. My business, business, business wife, the Dark Queen, has my home office. And I don’t mean a downstairs area where I get writing done. Those have been taken over by my two older children, who in this story resemble invading orcs. And I don’t mean a man cave, for that has been conquered by a hoarding second grader of a dragon that has zoom classrooms most foul.
I mean a walk-in closet that I have now made my sanctuary. It’s the only destination left in the land of Quarantine and it is mine, just behind bras hanging on a doorknob and wet towels thrown at its entrance. If you can see past that illusion, as I have, then magic awaits.
The Dark Queen’s shirts hang from the walls like tapestries from a European castle. They sway in the slight breeze when the furnace kicks on. Belts that haven’t been worn in 10 years jingle like trumpets every time I enter the realm of the Closet Office Kingdom. They announce my arrival to my subjects of old shoes and moving boxes that remain unpacked. They bow at my ingenuity. I am a merciful ruler, the only one the Closet Office Kingdom has ever known.
My throne is an old lawn chair that has been repurposed for my girth. The fabric is as faded and frayed as my patience. My treasure hold are shelves that contain not only my podcast mic but also leggings from Old Navy. My desk is a board that gently sits across a pillow I keep on my lap for this purpose. And from there, I am able to make my fictional worlds into reality.
Occasionally, my Closet Office Kingdom will get visitors from a passing mothball or spider. They bow and I accept their tribute. The musty smell coming from boxes of old tax records reminds me of what I used to be.
Before the Land of Quarantine, I ruled a mighty home where everyone left during the day. The orcs had school to attend, and the Dark Queen had other strongholds to have meetings in. The dragon, always loud and vicious, joined other little dragons to learn about crayoned jewels. But then that world changed, and I could not hold back the onslaught.
I fought many battles as my home was transformed. “Open spaced learning floor plans,” and “Dibs” were words and phrases that cut like long swords into my kingdom. Being royalty requires sacrifice, and sometimes that also means giving up the places you rule for the benefit of people that can’t seem to put their dishes in the sink.
I tried to fight. I tried to be steadfast. But in the Land of Quarantine, hopes and dreams are not allowed to breathe fresh air. And so frantic and dismayed, I retreated on an epic quest to find a space that I could call my own. To a land where I could write a sentence that wouldn’t be interrupted by stories of Minecraft or what Jill from Accounting said to Bill from HR. Scandalous.
Eventually, on my last legs, I stumbled into The Closet Office Kingdom. I collapsed on its cool worn-out 1990s beige carpet. I rested my eyes and my soul. And when I awoke, I knew that I had found my Narnia. Slowly and with much subterfuge, I began moving my royal court, once so massive and proud.
My guard cat, a vicious scratcher of ankles, watches over me as I invent backstories and scenes. She hisses when an orc or the Queen get too close. The guard cat is paid well for her service. At night, when the forces that rule the Land of Quarantine are quiet, the guard cat climbs atop my shoulder and rests against my neck. She purrs as each page of writing is done. Then she coughs a hairball onto my computer.
The oracle states that one day I will have my old kingdom back and all will be banished from my lands. I sit in the greatest treasure the Closet Office Kingdom has given me. Quiet. Peace. Legroom. And I think and wonder.
I hear the screams from down below. And those screams and battle cries grow louder.
A pounding on the door to my kingdom. The guard cat jumps down and disappears.
They are here. They have found me. They are here.