December collab for Jaunt: Out the Window.
Outside my Window
i'm sitting here looking out my office window, into the dark evening, watching people skitter down the sidewalk, cars rushing around corners, and wondering where they're all going. i wonder if they can see in and watch me here at my desk. somehow, being on one side makes you feel as if you're invisible to the other side.
there's a brick building, catty-corner across the street from my window, that i watch thru the year. it's got rounded lines at the corners and ivy creeping nearly all the way to the roof. some days, it's hard to see where the windows are for all the ivy. every so often, someone comes along and gives the ivy a much-needed trim, and then the windows resurface. oddly, for an office building, most of the windows have ivory curtains. as the light changes thru the year, so does the face of the building. in the fall, just before dusk on the clear days, the bricks seem to glow with a russet gold. the wooden dentils along the eves make it seem like a very proper character, if buildings can have characters, but not fussy, more 'just so'. in the spring light, or on the rainy days, the building seems pale, wan, weak, as if the burden of holding up straight for so long is too much.
if i turn my chair, i can see the holiday lights up in front of the hotel. they often have tiny white lights festooning the small trees out front. now they have a mammoth Christmas tree up, streaming with colored lights. the very tip top of the tree is just a little droopy; maybe it was always that way, or maybe the lights are just a little too much. it makes me like the tree, the fact that it droops a bit.
i look out my window into the night and think about my grandmother. is she sitting in her living room, watching the news? is she looking out her window to see the holiday lights, or the snow drifting down? have they put up a holiday tree in the yard this year, for her to look at? do the people across the way have any decorations out? or maybe she keeps the curtains pulled against the cold. in the summers, when i visit her and she leaves the windows open, we'll sit there looking at the clouds and she'll tell me what she thinks each cloud looks like. my gram has always had a creative and fanciful streak; i try hard to see the daffodils or tea cozies or couples strolling hand in hand, but they always look just like clouds to me.
i think of being up north, one afternoon. i was standing by the sliding glass door, back to the room, staring out at the mountains. i forget, living in the city, how green things can be. i stood there for a long time, drinking in all the shades of green to be found, and wondering why i felt sad and contrary. when he came up behind me to put a hand on my shoulder, i would gladly have turned into a bird, a dream, a cloud, and flown right out that window. but i didn't. i turned around, and stayed, and held him accountable for taking all that lush green away from me.
and other times, i'm on the outside of the window looking in. walking home nights, i love to get little glimpses of other peoples' lives. one house is lined in bookcases, and i'm mildly envious of all that shelf space. another has a round window on the third floor, and i crane my neck trying to see what might be up there, what the view from inside might offer. one has a wonderful kitchen, with warm wood-panelled cabinets. and there's the living room with the funky lamps, white walls, rose ceiling. oddly, it feels wrong to see anyone in these little postcard snapshots; i walk a little faster then, so they don't see me peeking in.
standing on the porch last night, dragging on my cigarette, i could see in the house. they were all sitting in the living room, under Christmas lights and candles, laughing about something. even though i had just stepped outside for a minute, it felt as if they were miles away, under an ocean of glass, rather than just on the other side of the door window. i felt lonely and alone, and stamped out my smoke to hurry back inside, hoping to be part of the laughter.
one night i hid in the window. we were in an old Victorian building, and all the windows had deep, padded window seats and heavy brocade curtains. we wanted to talk, to be away from the rest of the group for a little while, and we hid behind the curtains, curled up on the window seat. the windows were tall, like ballroom windows, tall and thin and arched at the top. there was a full moon that night, and it made it seem as if the solid, dark trees were glowing. as cold as we got, there was a charm to having our own private vista into the night. actually, now that i think about that night, i don't think it was all that charming at the time. i miss the window more than i miss him.
someday, in my perfect house, i will have a round stone turret room for my library. it will be a story and a half, with bookshelves all the way up, and a brass rail around the top for one of those lovely rolling ladders. the floor will be wide wooden planking, dark to match the book cases, and i'll cover it with one very ornate Persian rug. there will be one immensely comfortable chair, and a small side table, and a perfect reading lamp for the evenings, and one tall, arched ballroom window to let in the sunlight and to let me look out at my garden when i look up from my reading.