POV: Windows.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.
  

Last week, as I sat writing on the sill of my living room window, I noticed a woman sewing on the second floor of the building across from me. She moved yards of yellow cloth through a machine that I couldn’t see, the fabric draping out the window in dramatic folds across the building’s brick facade. It was a calendar, with dates stitched in thread. When I left home that afternoon, May 6 made shadows over the sidewalk, flapping in the breeze.

In July, an artist told me about watching a neighbor as she smoked cigarettes from her window. “She smokes and spits, smokes and spits,” he said. “I take portraits of her. I have pictures of her smoking in the summer, in the winter. I could start a series.”

A month earlier, shortly before I moved out of my old apartment, I lay in bed, half-asleep as the sun came up. Across the street, a woman stood in the window of her top-floor apartment. She was naked, her arms stretched above her head as she adjusted her curtains, letting in the light.
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What do people see through my windows? I sometimes wonder, now that I live in New York City where everything, and everyone, seems visible. 

I lived on-campus for three years in college, and I loved the idea of living in buildings with so many rooms. I loved that so many of us were sharing a space, and the novelty of the experience of being away from home. And I loved going to sleep each night picturing each person in his or her little room, working, reading, smoking, getting dressed, making things. 

If someone were to look through our windows, I remember thinking, they’d see fragments of a story: characters, conversations, settings, scenes - incomplete chapters, without explanations, or endings. 

---

Thursday night, en route to the summer camp wedding in New Hampshire, Yair and I made a stop in Brattleboro, Vermont. We’d been on the road for hours, singing Leonard Cohen songs and eating cereal out of a box with our hands. It was past 1 AM; we were drowsy. Sleep beckoned.

So we drove into the woods, where it was dark and where we were sure no one would find us. We parked in a clearing and put down the seats, making a bed of sheets and sweaters and duffel bags. 

It was pitch-black, and silent. We wondered about bears.

“Where are we?” I asked. It seemed like a big question. When the sun rose, we looked.

There were no houses, or offices, or shops. No footsteps, or voices in the distance. No one watching.

There were trees, though, and plants and vines and grass and green. There were dragonflies, spiderwebs. Our own tire tracks. And through the windows all around us, a bending road and only mist.
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You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for reading! Photos via my Instagram.

13 comments:

paw said...

this is lovely and oddly mysterious.
so much of what we do is on display
(especially in the city); so rare to find
moments of invisibility (or moments when
we appear to be invisible). adding this to
my growing list of favorites.

paw said...

by the way, the people who create
blogger's "please prove you're not
a robot" thingy must think we all
have advanced degrees in cryptology.
why are they torturing us?

Trish said...

Your post reminds me a bit of the movie "Dans La Maison." So many windows showing so many lives...Lovely post!

Shoko said...

Paw, thank you! And yes, I hate that, too!

Trish, I haven't seen that - I'd love to check it out :)

Chloe said...

I loved what you said in your tweet about accepting a part in an unfinished story. That's beautiful.

dee said...

this was beautiful shoko. the imagery of the second half seems especially remarkable. I could picture the darkness and the mist welcoming the first rays of light. :)

Nicole said...

One of my favorites. I always like that you know when to give the reader some space to think and reflect.

sophie said...

So lovely. And thought provoking! You give quotidian moments such light; it's wonderful.

Loulou said...

So beautifully written. I love the imagery of you waking up in the car. When we moved into our home, a previous occupant had put wooden blinds on every single window in the place. I immediately wanted to take some of them down but my husband suggested we live with them a while. Here we are many years later and I am so happy we didn't take any of them down.

Shoko said...

Chloe, Dee, Nicole, and Sophie, thank you so much.

sherry said...

Lovely> Love it.

H

max said...

so so good. such beautiful storytelling, it's like reading a book that i wish never ended.

Akiko said...

Such a beautiful story and it makes me wonder if someone see me through a window. I was reading your post around midnight in Cali, but just felt like I'm in a middle of nowhere early in the morning. It happens every time I read your column..! xo akiko
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