There’s a place that I, unfortunately, carry up with me no matter where I go: my cabin of sadness.

Until a few years ago it didn’t have a name, neither a shape. However, it had been there just as far as I can remember. It was just a dark place I would go sometimes, without even knowing why or how.

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Arrowtown – New Zealand

 An ex-lover of mine gave it its name almost 4 years ago. I kind of liked it, for it made perfect sense. He used to say I would go there, shut the door, not letting anyone in, not even him, and it could last days, weeks – and for what I can remember of my teenage years, well, I had spent some years cooped up there deep in the woods

Even though it’s a dark place, my cabin of sadness is quite comfy. I can just lie there, still and motionless and there is no noise disturbing the mess going on in my mind. It’s a safe place to think, but as its name points out, my thoughts there are clearly not the happy ones.

Hualien – Taiwan

I would go there, lock myself in, when the world outside feels too much. When I can’t handle it anymore. When I fucking can’t pretend anymore. Pretending always takes a good amount of energy, and if I need a rest that’s exactly where I would go. It’s not that I would usually pretend to be happy, no no no because when I’m happy I actually truly am, feeling it running into my blood, warming up my chest and lighting my head. No. I just get fucking tired to pretend to be someone else.

Because who would ever like a girl who has a cabin of sadness anyway, right? In there are all the things lying down within me that I can’t show to anyone. The pain, the grieving, the self-harming, the self-hatred, the lack of self-confidence, the shame, the struggling on a daily basis, the high expectations, the addictions, the social expectations, the fear. In other words, that’s where lies a good part of my true fucked up introverted self.

Gili Island – Indonesia

It grows sometimes. I would just build a new room with cracks on the wall that I can contemplate from very close, analyzing every imperfection on the woodwork. Trying to figure out how it happened, and finally letting myself slide on the path of sorrow facing its ugliness. I would follow the cracks with my fingertip, until nothing makes sense anymore, like when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror for too long or when you repeat the word ‘hippopotamus’ too many times. There are messy cupboards too, some of them I never dared to open for I’m too scared of what could pop up from it.

Sometimes I would just destroy one room or another, shrinking the cabin not to get lost in its gloomy corridors. I’m always scared to get lost when I enter the cabin of sadness. It often takes quite an effort to get out of the place and run through the woods to the clearing.

Wulai – Taiwan

Over the last two years of traveling, I managed to reduce its size to the minimum. There’s just one big room now, with a green soft carpet tickling the sole of my feet on which I would lie sometimes to look at the ceiling’s irregularities. It can fit in my backpack and doesn’t weight that much most of the time. I won’t get rid of it, for I came to cherish it as my only safe place ever, the only place I ever felt that I belong to. It’s so fucked up how one can actually indulge in sadness to the point where it feels like home.

I guess I’m certainly not the only one to carry around a cabin like that. We all have our share of fears, stabbing sorrows, internal or external pressures under which we completely crash down sometimes. I’m wondering how do you deal with your cabin. Is it even a cabin by the way? It could be a boat, a trunk, a garden or even an armchair for all I know.

Hualien – Taiwan

However, I managed to build a twin cabin beside this one. It took a bit of time, log after log, hammer and nails, paints and brushes. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it has huge windows and flowers on the table. I tend to go there now and then when I need silence to think. It’s not dedicated to sadness though, just to that introverted part of the self which needs quiet and alone time to process calmly what’s happening around. There are thoughts about travel, hikes, unexpected encounters, love, sex, sunrises, dreams I could achieve, actions that I could take to become a better version of myself, long train rides and chocolate mousse floating in the air along the flowers’ scent.

There’s even a dream list pinned up on that imperfect wall that goes from the ceiling to the floor, right next to the postcards’ wall. There are bookshelves filled with my favorite books and the ones I’m dying to read. And another cupboard. A huge one, which looks really ancient, carved with sea patterns. This is where I put all the bright memories. Like a treasure box. I will pull out one, two, three magical moments and let them warm me up again.

I’m even welcoming people in sometimes. They have a look around, take a flower or two, get inspired by the dream list on the wall and even adds up new dreams sometimes when we start sharing deep conversations and inspirations. They can stay over for tea if they want too. There’s no need to wash the dishes.

Hualien – Taiwan

But let’s get real for a minute. By far, traveling didn’t magically cure my depression and my melancholia. I’m still carrying the cabin of sadness around, taking refuge inside when I feel too small – or ashamedly too big, invisible or too self-conscious, powerless or lost, or when the ghost of my father comes haunting me again. The cabin of sadness isn’t something I could even think of destroying or leave it to rot in the back of my mind, in an ivy and dragonflies’ kingdom. It’s not something I could just go through, or overcome. It’s here, it has always been here, and I just have to live with it.

So traveling didn’t help me to overcome the monsters hidden in the creepy cupboards. But it gave me the energy to build something else – a place filled with hope, optimism and dreams. In the end, maybe traveling is like a magic trick to surprise your own mind and help it get more creative.

Akaroa – New Zealand

R., I would have liked you to walk on the door of this brand new cabin back when we were lovers. I could have welcomed you with a smile instead of a gloomy look.

Maybe you would have found it a cool name, too. You were always so good with word plays.

Gili Island – Indonesia

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