Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Window Pain

This morning I was woken up by a sound that I would have guessed was a robotic lamb bleating loudly for its mommy.

Turned out, one of my neighbours was doing her laundry (her clothes line is in desperate need of some WD-40).

It was 5:47am and the sun was just pink enough in the sky for me to make out other eyes such as mine peaking from between the slits of horizontal blinds, all of them beaming rays of unkindness upon the woman who dared disturb our last (and therefore most precious) moments of peace before another day begins.

I feel back asleep only to be wakened again, this time by what sounded like someone using a screwdriver and various cans of half-filled, half-spilled paint as a percussion instrument, and it turns out, that's exactly what it was. The musician was a 2 year old kid in a diaper, who must have been freezing in the cool temperatures that still cling to the dewy grass before 7am.

I was personally a little happy to have cooler temperatures prevail - not only was my sunburn soothed, but it allowed me to wear my Feel Good Sweater, something I have longed to do for 2 whole weeks but because of fevers in the body and stuffiness in the room, I could not.

Feel Good Sweater is a short hoodie, gray knit with silver strands throughout that are like pieces of tinsel from a Christmas tree. There's a little bunny pouch to keep my hands warm and long strings to keep me entertained while talking on the phone. It becomes part of my pj ensemble, and to me, it's like wearing a hug. I'm not much of a cuddler, and I don't care for the person-to-person contact, but Feel Good Sweater is all the affection with none of the pressure.


So I'm sitting in bed in Feel Good Sweater and some fuzzy slippers, and watching the things that happen outside of my window when it rains (I mentioned it's raining, right? Because it is, and not softly, either).

The raindrops tap tap tap on the shingles of the roof, and also ping ping ping on the piece of corrugated iron below and slap slap slap on the cracked window pane lifted above my head. Through the magic of window screens, I can smell the wet earth, and the scent is rich because it's spring and the earth is dark and recently churned where people have started to garden.

The yard below me is a narrow mess. There is no lawn, it's mostly rocks and patches of ground, and a few intrepid weeds that have managed to poke through the obstacles.

The yard to my left is much nicer. I wish that yard was mine. The grass, though only slightly larger than the proverbial postage stamp, is actually green and grows in one blade at a time, and has been uniformly cut. There's a neat patch in the back that could be a garden if only someone spared the time. I would spare mine. I would love to sink my hands in the wet dirt, dig holes and leave behind seeds, watch the earthworms filter through.

The yard to my right is an embarrassment. There is a white minivan up on cinder blocks. It has clearly been left there to die an undignified death, slowly rusting away, showing its sickness in bright orange patches for all the world to see and pity. Beside it, comically, is a white jeep, the plastic battery-powered kind that kids can drive around, but this one too has been relegated to junk, and it sits not on cinder blocks but a battered old folding table that looks ready to collapse.

Other yards are harder to see, although we are only separated by low chain-link fences. One appears to have been paved over. Another is obscured by the 3 satellite dishes attached to the house. One yard is completely full of...something. Stakes? Posts? I like to think that some sort of inventor-type person lives there, and creates these elaborate contraptions, and in the morning when the sun hits the sundial, a little ball starts rolling, which opens the gate, which drops the weight that's holding a bar that releases the mechanism that flushes the upstairs toilet. Or something. I like that house because there's a tiny window up on the upper floor that's been framed by electric-blue paint. Electric-blue for no apparent reason on an otherwise sedately bricked and sided home. I hope it's there for a whimsical reason, and not because electric-blue happened to be on sale that week.

In the yard beside that one are four tall wooden posts holding up a thatched covering of some sort. It kind of reminds of me of a chuppah, but that can't be what it is. But right now, it's just a free-standing thing, and I hope that as summer approaches its usefulness might become apparent.

Two houses over there's the bare metallic bones of a car port that houses no cars. On top there's a pile of dead leaves, only I can't decide if they're last year's garbage or this year's attempt at having vines grow over an otherwise incredi-ugly structure.

And beside that, a house which has its upper windows boarded over with plywood. I hope sincerely that no one lives in those quarters.

Beyond, there are several low-rise apartment buildings, all sitting squatly in their uniformly boring brownness. Why so much brown? The brown that reeks of cost-saving bleakness. If I ever have a million dollars, I will buy myself yards and yards of fabric and wrap those buildings up like presents in pinks and oranges and maybe even electric-blues.

But I don't have a million dollars, so for now I am content to sit in my Feel Good Sweater and gaze out at the wet, wet world, and wonder who, if anyone, is gazing back.

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