I sit between two windows, writing. The furnace clicks, gas whirrs, the blower turns on to warm the house. I opened the glass door when Liz went off to work; it took my breath away. Back to the WeatherBug on the desktop, -6. Mr. StripeyPants digs in the Iams Veterinary Formula we buy for Chaco to pull out a few choice morsels. I tap the keys, stare out the Northeast double-hung window to my left. It’s all sky, bare branches, and the tops of oaks. To the right, another window with blinds closed faces Northwest. It’s slightly behind me. Bad chi to have someone sneak up on you from behind, so I don’t open it when I’m writing. North by Northwest. I remember Hitchcock.
Windows remind me of freedom, peace. When I moved to Minnesota from Montana at age 30, I was new to the Twin Cities. I did not have a job. I didn’t know my way around. I got depressed for a time, took on the role of housewife. I’d get the chores done, watch As the World Turns (the only time in my life I have ever watched soap operas), then sit in a pine rocker and stare out the big picture window of our small apartment, the bottom of a two-story vintage 1920’s house.
The outside was white stucco. It was across from a castle-like church with a lawn that formed a triangle. Every day at 10am, children whose parents sent them to the 140-year-old St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran for elementary school would run out on the lawn for recess. The kids were noisy and happy, the teachers would circle them, blow their whistles, sometimes chase balls that dribbled out into the city street. At the bell, everyone lined up and went back inside, exactly on time.
There was a huge maple tree, tall, tall, tall, with a wide bushy crown on the side of the church next to the playground. Every Fall that tree would turn the most magnificent shade of golden red. It always took its time turning. Day by day I would watch it. I could not believe how absolutely perfect that tree was. It must have been over 100 years old. Years later, I would drive by the old apartment, the triangle, and the tree was gone. They had cut it down to make a parking lot. I cried.
The past never stays the same. It is always changing. Only memories keep it alive. What was, was, at least to us. What will be, we can only guess. Windows are a grounding point for me, a focal point. When I was a child, I used them as a form of escape when times were unpleasant. I have always rocked, from the time I was a little kid. Mom told me I used to rock and watch The Perry Como Show. She said I loved Perry Como. Windows hold freedom, escape. And sometimes they become walls. When we never go past the inside glass.
When I sit in Taos, I try to find a spot with facing windows across the room. Even if I don’t look out them when I meditate, I know they are there. And that’s the thing about windows. They let in the light, even when we forget they are doing it. Last night, the end of the March Full Moon shone through the bedroom window and landed on the pillow between Liz and me. She was sound asleep. The house was silent. I held my hand up so that the moonlight hit the tips of my fingers. There was no glow from the inside out, the way the sun shines, the way Liz came out of work yesterday with the bright winter sun blasting her windshield and said, “I feel like a mole!”
No, moonlight is reflective, subdued. And when shining through a Winter window, muted and glorious. How does it sneak past the blinds? What is it trying to tell me? When I moved to Minnesota, I didn’t have good job-hunting skills, though there was plenty of work. Now I have the skills and jobs are scarce. The Moon reminds me, don’t let that stop you. Don’t let anything stop you. If you could do anything in the world, even staring through windows, what would you choose? Within reason, within physical capacity, within the bounds and scope of a person your age, with your family genetics, in this time, I believe you can do it.
Easy does not enter the picture. Nothing worth dreaming about is easy. It’s easy to forget how many who are rich, famous, privileged worked hard to get where they are, to follow their dreams. With privilege and wealth come expectations. Families are families, rich or poor, the 1920’s or the 21st century. It’s not money that makes dreams come true. It’s taking the risk. I had a dream earlier this week. I was walking at Ghost Ranch, hiking the red iron soil in the beating sun near Box Canyon when, in an instant, I was raised off the ground, hanging on to the hand of a man with a black umbrella. He was rising in the sky next to a gray elephant. I kid you not.
A trail of other objects and animals ran behind us like a kite tail. The elephant was weightless, not a care in the world. I remember the bodily sensation of flying, of my stomach dropping when we hit a wind current, a down draft. Then came the next thermal. I felt like the raptors I so love, riding the thermals, floating on air. In that minute, I knew that anything was possible. And all the windows that once guarded and protected me were nowhere to be found.
-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, March 12th, 2009
-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — WINDOW