Living in the Hallway
July 4, 2011
One eye barely opens as I roll over in bed toward the clock. This year, I don’t feel the anticipation or the excitement of the day’s celebrations that lie ahead. Picnics with the usual fare – potato salad with sliced hard boiled eggs sprinkled with paprika as a garnish. The smoky-sweet richness of baked beans and the crispy fried chicken in a bucket from The Barrel Drive- in. I slide one leg over the side of the bed and the other reluctantly follows. My heart is trying to feel a spark for the parade.
I rise now, feeling the emptiness in my small over- crowed apartment. I shuffle past the computer desk, and brushing by the office chair, it swivels toward me as if to say good morning. I offer a good morning in return. Two steps later I enter the hallway. It’s actually a landing at the top of the stairs that is the entry to my apartment. But it’s perfect for me. I’m 5’1” on a humid day. And when I raise my hand, I can touch the ceiling. I’ve considered posting a sign that states ‘Watch your head, you are now entering Munchkin Land’
In the hallway, there are 4 doorways. One to the kitchen – I love the kitchen. It’s compact and everything has its place. In fact, the apartment is so small, and the stairway so narrow that it comes completely furnished. With the toaster, the silverware and the dishes. Even the pizza cutter and ice cream scoop are provided.
There is a Tuscan aura to the room. Two bright oak windows with shutter-style openings allow for an open feel even though there is really only room for one person. The dormer above the sink has a mural of a Tuscan landscape. It’s these small touches that lend to the warmth and comfort of this room.
There is a ceramic tile countertop and built in mini-appliances, such as a two burner electric stove. Across the room on the one open wall is a multi-purpose wine cart. On the front of the black mini-fridge I have a Mother’s day card from my son Nick. He gave it to me in 2007. The cover is a bright yellow smiley faced sun that says Hi Mom! Inside the card it says I love you! I open this card whenever I miss him. He has been married for a year now. Nick and Kate are very well suited for each other. They are a young playful couple. I’m so happy that they’ve begun a life together.
Also on the fridge is a heart shaped plaster heart magnet that my 9 year old, Hunter made for me in school. On it he has painted “I love you” in bright primary colors. Like Nick, he has a very tender side. When I tell him I love him, he always replies “I love you more.”
The next doorway is to the bedroom. It’s sage. All sage. The walls and ceiling become one with the dormer slant in the corner above the bed. Even the carpet is sage.
To contrast the green, I feminized the room with a cream-colored, pink tea rose embroidered quilt, on the full sized bed. “We got the bed in through the window, it’s the biggest that would fit” is what my landlord told me the day he showed me the apartment. Fortunately, the brown steel framed bed is on casters (I know, and the springs squeak too, every time I roll over!) so the bed rolls a couple of inches away from the wall each morning when I make it.
On the wall opposite the bed, I hung a picture of a woman standing in a field of poppies. It reminds me of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, in the field of poppies as she sees the Emerald City in the distance. “She’s Almost There” is what I’ve titled the picture.
To the left of the bed is a 3-shelved iron book shelf. It holds only a few books on the bottom shelf. On the middle shelf is a jarred candle from Nick & Kate that appropriately says ‘DREAM’ on it. There is also a white-washed basket that holds CD’s. And a big rock that Hunter found that was “cool Mom.” On the top shelf is my clock/CD player, and a lead crystal candle holder that I got as a Christmas gift from my Jewish-psychologist boss several years ago. And finally a light brown wicker basket of summer flowers that my soon to be ex-husband gave me for my birthday last August, just eleven days after I left him. The flowers are pretty, but fake.
Centered above the book shelf is a cream colored ceramic oval shaped plaque. On it is a hilly landscape with a bright shining sun on the horizon. Etched on the plaque is 1Chronicles 4:10
The Prayer of Jabez.
“Oh that You would bless me indeed
and enlarge my territory
that Your hand would be with me
and that You would keep me from evil
that I may not cause pain.”
The next doorway leads to the bathroom. It’s like taking a step back in time as you walk through the door. The walls are painted with two coordinating shades of teal, with the lighter tone of teal on top. The floor boards and the cupboards were originally painted a stark white, that has now yellowed to a soft cream color. With hinges and towel bars in a contrasting black. There are special touches in this room as well. Cut glass balls are the ends of the black iron curtain tie backs and also are on the ends of the black curtain rod. These cut glass balls mimic the ‘diamond door knobs’ from the home I lived in as a toddler. Those door knobs made me feel extra special as a child. That we should be so privileged as to have diamond door knobs.
There is a small black side table with a drawer where Hunter keeps all of his water toys. But the highlight of the room is the old claw-foot tub. This tub is powerful enough to get a 9 year old boy to take a bath without a fuss. Now that is amazing. I think it’s the hand-held sprayer though, that has his heart. Let’s just say that the bathroom walls, floor and window are regularly cleaned.
The final doorway leads to the multi-functional living room, dining room, and office. Not bad for a 12 x 35’ room. At one end is the living room with a black wooden tv stand that holds a small 20” color television. The two lower shelves hold the VCR and DVD player that I had my oldest child, Angie set up for me. I freely admit that I’m technically challenged. In fact, I didn’t have tv for my first five days here because I didn’t know how to work the remote. Who knew the tv needed to be on channel 39 for the cable to work. (Apparently everyone else in town knows!)
A couch wouldn’t make it up the narrow twists and turns in the stairway leading up into the apartment. So I’ve been graced with a tan corduroy futon. After sitting here for ten minutes, it’s painful to sit on. And because it sits only 6 inches from the floor, it’s quite an adventure getting off of it. There is no grace or elegance in that move whatsoever.
There is however, a glorious easy chair. It’s covered with a bright cranberry-colored fabric. It’s not quite big enough for two people. But it’s easy to get out of, even though it’s so comfortable that you don’t want to.
Hunter and I did manage to bring one end tale up the stairway. If I could have stopped laughing at how comical our struggle was, I wouldn’t have smashed my finger between the marble table top and the wall. (And yes – I broke a nail.)
The ‘office’ is at the far end of the room. A light brown computer desk, a swivel office chair and a side table serve me well. I spend a fair amount of time in this area.
On the top shelf of the desk are some books that I refer to. Also a box of tissues, and pictures of Hunter and my 6 year-old granddaughter, Kali. The picture of Kali was taken on her first fishing trip. In it she’s crouched down on the dock holding her little pink pole. Without her noticing, the breeze has blown her light strawberry hair out of place.
None of my four children bear much resemblance to me. Without the stretch marks and varicose veins – you’d never know I had children. (Well, there’s the loose tummy – but denial is a useful coping skill to have.) Kali resembles me as a child. So watching my granddaughter is like watching myself. And as she grows and discovers new things in her world. I grow and discover things in mine. When she says “love you Grandma” it just melts my heart.
Then onto the desktop, there is of course my computer, and a small lamp to brighten my work space. On the wall to the left of the desk I have three white wooden plaques, all with gold-sprayed barbed wire hangers. The smallest one says think, the middle sized one says grow and the large one says create. ( They were supposed to be inspiring, but that barbed wire kind of worries me.)
Then there’s the dining room area. It consists of a small cream-colored wooden table and two ice cream parlor style chairs. That’s it.
Well there is a picture hanging above the table. I got it for my daughter last Christmas. (Don’t worry, she loved the quilt she unwrapped.) Not by coincidence, the picture is that of quilt pieces put together. And embroidered on it are the words…
Families are like old quilts
Although they tend to unravel at times
Each can be stitched back together
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. so I decided to share a story I wrote about my first apartment when I left my marriage. I just wanted you all to know that I really haven’t forgotten you, I was pretty sick for a couple of weeks. Finally have that under control. But now I’m packing and moving my belongings to a storage unit until I return from my trip. It’s getting close.. I leave on Wednesday morning. I’ll be blogging each evening of my trip to share the things I’ve seen and done.. pictures included. But now.. it’s time to rest.