"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One Year Later - This Is How I Knew

The brick. The brick is what had me up at 3am, sobbing, while my husband lay beside me, snoring, oblivious to my snotty face or my admittedly heavy legs tossed over him as if he were log- not man.

I had my back pressed against the cold, glossy wainscot in our bedroom at my mother's house, trying to calm down, but I couldn't. The brick. I was crying like my daughter cries when she can't get her coat and sweater off fast enough because she's sweaty. That's how I felt. Stifled. Maybe even... claustrophobic?

I'd just signed a lease on what was possibly the prettiest old flat I'd ever been in. 1200 sprawling square feet with original woodwork, mirrored fireplaces, built-in cabinetry, plaster medallions, original wooden floors, room for both my husband and I to have our own offices, and a bathroom painted the most deliriously gorgeous shade of plum. But I couldn't get over the brick.

In the flat, you must understand, I had access to no less than fourteen windows. Seven of them (including all three bedrooms) had a beautiful view of... brick. The walls of the other 3-story buildings on either side of us- one of which is merely a foot away. The other? Three. We are sandwiched in there as tight as peas, as sardines, as thieves. We are in there, and there I was, bawling because I thought- my daughter. Her bedroom. She can't look out the window. There is nothing to look at.

And so I was convinced that not only had I chosen the wrong apartment, but I had done a very bad thing. I'd imprisoned my own baby, as if she was a convict- and the bright, spring-green walls were useless to assuage the feeling. What had I done?

The next morning I set out, face throbbing as if hung over, set and determined to find the beauty and joy in that place, the need to convince myself of right-doing as agonizing as the night before. But in the daylight, all had changed. The front room (east-facing) was soaked in bright sunlight, the warmth of it seeping into my bones as I cranked open the vertical blinds and closed my eyes to greet it. From the window I could view the western slope of Prospect Park, trees bleary-eyed with the sunny March morning, biding their time before a soft mist of green buds would begin to color their branches.

While unpacking some kitchen goods and listening to a tinny Solsbury Hill coming from my laptop speakers, I found myself unwrapping and setting my French press (my ultimate symbol of warm mornings spent in the kitchen with your loved ones) down on the old stove just as Peter Gabriel was singing "I did not believe the information, I just had to trust imagination. My heart going boom boom boom; "Son," he said "Grab your things, I've come to take you home."

That evening, I witnessed the sunset in the west-facing kitchen, the amber light spilling over the cathedral in the distance and the green tiles on my walls with a sleepy contentedness. 'It was a good day. See you again tomorrow.'

Yes, I thought, at last healed from the night before. You will.

Originally written for The City Year on 3/20/2011.

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