making a home from a room.

this morning i woke early.

knowing the wee hours were the only ones i could claim as my own today i was determined to enjoy them.  so i slipped out of bed despite exhaustion, brewed the customary cup of coffee, and retreated to my room where i ever so slightly cracked the window--oh for a light breeze to combat that unruly, but always powerful radiator!

i made the bed, lit the warm gingerbread candle i got just before thanksgiving when i feared i was going to need extra help getting into the christmas spirit, and then returned to the kitchen to pour the freshly-brewed coffee. back in my room, i set the mug on the window ledge and plopped into my reading chair.

peace. silence. stillness.

i looked around.

from this little corner my bookshelf looms tall. i see the many books and pictures and think to myself that if my life came down to two things these might just be it--books and pictures. which really means that my life--as of yet--comes down to one thing: stories.

directly diagonal is my worn, black desk. the mirror sits on it, leaning against the wall--it fell the day before i left for colorado and i've yet to put it back. in fact, i might just leave it there. i like it. perched atop is a strung, exposed time-capsule: my coffee filter pom-poms, childhood photos, birthday cards and the like.

next to my bed is the humidifier i finally broke down and got when i was sick for the fourth time this year. it is lovely. its cool breeze lulls me to sleep at night, nourishes my skin and throat--compensates for what that aforementioned radiator takes away.

i look next to me: my mug sits on the windowsill. the steam and winter wind mingle in dance. it is beautiful, lovely to watch, and i have the though that this can't be good for the coffee--making it cold--but it's such a miraculous little sight to behold that i can't bring myself to move it. beauty trumps taste today.

to be continued...

furniture as stability.

i got a bed when i turned fifteen.

my parents said something like, we're getting you a bed for you birthday. and i said, umokay.

and that was that.

i remember going to pick it out. it was a cool, autumn morning in houston. and there in the eddie bauer home store (sadly,  no longer in existence) was the four-postered thing of beauty. light wood. simple. elegant and rustic all at once. and it was love.

i believe in love at first sight. because that's how it was with me and that bed.

i would dive into it at night--towering off the ground it demanded a running start. i'd lie right-smack-dab in the middle and admire the gentle curve of the foot-board, the sturdy posts reaching upwards all around me.

in the morning i'd carefully make the bed, place my head down on the freshly-smoothed covers, whisper sweet-nothings, and assure it of my imminent return that evening. and off to school i'd reluctantly go.

for me that bed is now a talisman of sorts. or rather a symbol--a goal. that four-postered sleeping wonderland is nothing less than stability made tangible.

you see, it is large. not easily schlepped from one nyc apartment to another. and because of it's size it will cost a pretty penny to get it here. or there. or wherever i end up. in short, care of my bed will require funds and continuity of location. and oh i long for funds and continuity of location!

but for now the bed remains. at the most constant home i have. 2,000 miles away.

and now i am twenty-five. and now ten years have passed. and the furniture gods have gifted me once again. i have a reading chair. for my twenty-fifth birthday i was given a reading chair.

i asked for it last christmas, but it was only upon my return from utah this summer that my mother pulled out the ballard designs catalogue, suggested a model, and then lugged me off to the fabric store in search of neutral fabric with a punch.

the days following utah were difficult. and so in some ways i think the chair was more my parent's peace-offerening to my mental health and happiness (the sultan of all the many forms of stability) than actual birthday gift. but what a lovely peace-offereing it was. because as of today, i have the chair. but in early september i had those few afternoons spent with my mother in the comfort of a heavily air-conditioned fabric store quietly perusing spool after spool after spool.

the chair has arrived!

flipping through pages

grocery store bundle.

flowers on the bureau

i go to the grocery store. every day, in some form or another.

there's the one i go to on 72nd with cheap cheeses and great guacamole. and the one on 74th where a gal can always count on a gaggle of firemen stocking-up for the week. there's the whole foods at columbus circle. and the one at union square. each with a fresh foods bar and stonyfield ice cream. and then of course my corner store on 181 that i head to daily for canada dry sparkling water. i go to frank's market on 187th when i need to pretend i live in a small town. and the ap across the street from that has those unforgivable fluorescent lights but, bless it, a decent selection.

and so i cycle through the stores. most often choosing the one that falls along my route for the day.

but yesterday morning i set my alarm early. got up, dressed, took the c train downtown, treated myself to an israeli latte and entered the grocery store of my choosing. i wanted the full experience. and i wanted it without too many others around. i wanted to revel in all that is a grocery store. i wanted to buy the mammoth box of clementines knowing i'd have to lug it nowhere but home. and so i perused the aisles, cruised the fresh produce, sipping my latte all the while.

and then i came across the flowers. oh the flowers. i picked some up,  began to walk away, then quickly returned and replaced them. flowers are an indulgence i cannot allow right now. not enough money.

and yet i couldn't seem to tear myself from the little corner of greenery. 4 dollars. that was it. that was all. the cost of the little bouquet. the cost of the coffee in my hand. why not splurge just this once? and as i stood there i was struck by a passage i had just re-read in liz gilbert's eat, pray, love. it's towards the beginning of the book when she's talking about moving into her first apartment--just after leaving her husband, breaking up with her boyfriend. and she talks about painting the walls warm colors and buying herself flowers every week--as though she was visiting herself in the hospital.

she creates a hospice of a home.

and so there i was. sunday morning. staring at the flowers. wondering why we only allow ourselves such indulgences when things get really rough.

and the thing is, what i'm learning is...if i wait now, if i put it off now, then probably i always will.

so i picked up the 6 dollar bundle, turned around, and walked away. this time, for good. and as i collected my fruits and vegetables and nuts--all with my flowers under my arm--i could feel my mind spinning and clicking, a veritable rolodex up there.

it's happened once or twice before, i hit a pocket of space and time and i can actually feel--actually hear my mind sorting thought after though at a speed so rapid i don't dare keep up. it is a restructuring of mind. a realignment of body. sudden realization after sudden realization--or at least the promise of realization. it is elucidation. the body alight with insight. it is a feeling unlike any other--a vitality unparalleled.

the flowers are on my dresser. in my sanctuary of a room. in my sun-lit apartment. in a little corner of washington heights. just along the river.

because the time for waiting has passed.


latte on the 4th

i remember being young and unable to sleep the night before my birthday. morning just wouldn't come fast enough. it was a physical thing--that tingle of the stomach that spread to the fingertips and the crown of the head. because on that one day--that day of birth--one felt different. special.

i miss that feeling. it's been quite some time since i experienced it.

but yesterday? well, yesterday was perfect. because the day was so normal. i mean, no, not quite normal, but simple and lovely--as close to normal as a birthday can get and still be utter perfection.

it was the cup of coffee i had upon waking. the 7:15 am subway ride in which i ran into a dear friend. the 8:15 fitness class that had my legs throbbing and my stomach muscles doing a little, unsolicited dance. it was the warm shower afterwards. and getting caught in the rain in nolita. it was the french-moroccan bistro and their unbelievably thick latte. it was my new navy blazer that had me feeling beautiful. and lunch with girlfriends. laughter. the ogling of good looking, bearded men as only downtown manhattan (and parts of brooklyn) can produce. it was coming home to a clean room at the end of the day. lit candles against the gray of the sky. a little package from home. my mother's perfect (yes, truly) sugar cookies. the phone call from my bother. an evening spent in our tiny kitchen. lazing about discussing books and clothes and plans. it was the half-glass of prosecco. and the little orange pumpkin that now sits on my dresser. it was all of your kind wishes. lovely wishes. and words of encouragement.

and so when the clock passed from midnight to just-past and i was still awake, i didn't even notice. i didn't regard the passing of another birthday with great sadness as i used to (another year until i feel this way) because it seemed entirely possible that this great feeling, this perfect and simple and bordering on pedestrian (in the most glorious of ways) feeling might last all year long. yes, i'm sure there will be interruptions, ups and downs, but all in all it felt as if yesterday set the tone for all that is to come in this quarter-century-year. and i couldn't be more content.

alright, i'm off to the freezer for one of those sugar cookies. (one can do such things the morning after their birthday).