It sometimes amazes me that a slight reorientation has such great power when it comes to shifting your perspective.
I moved recently. Not far, just a couple of blocks from the old marital home. The space had never been occupied before I arrived. It’s brand-new, a clean slate. An image that seems largely fitting. A hopeful metaphor for the future. At least, I like to try and think of it that way. I wasted no time in setting up the space to reflect my personal taste. Each piece was carefully chosen or incorporated to align with a shadowy and impressive ideal. Who do I want to be, now? The possibilities seem infinite.
Still, everything retains the slight flavour of divorce. A lone coaster from a matched set, its companions vanished. The clearest memory of where a particular piece of furniture used to stand, and the way the light played across it. Physical discomfort as muscle memory adjusts to a new area. Plates go here now. The bed is a vast expanse. The hands on the clock show two when I wake up on the couch. Silence beats an unaccustomed rhythm on my eardrums.
Like my cat, I spend a lot of time looking out the window and familiarizing myself with this new perspective. It’s not a bad view, all things considered. This area is a diverse mix of weathered heritage buildings, staid stucco low-rises built during a 70s boom, and the sleek sophistication of modern construction. An apple tree quietly drops swelling fruit to the wilderness of an ancient lawn. Automatic sprinklers maintain the manicured greenery of a precisely landscaped area. The streets transform from cobblestone to concrete in an instant. A slice of the river peeks out from a tangle of trees and buildings. “Waterfront view,” they call it. Soaring concrete and precisely ruled cables mark a bridge spanning the river, which funnels commuters towards the exciting environs of the city.
This is my domain, now. And yet, it often feels as if a door has been left open. A cold, cottony fog rolls in, obscuring the outlines, making it impossible to find the door, much less close it. I’m not even sure it can be closed. Some days, the fog is merely a light fleece, tenaciously clinging to the lower parts of perception. Other days, it’s a sticky, blinding, aching mass, seemingly calculated to paralyze faculties and smother feeling.
On the worst days, I grope blindly from couch to kitchen, satisfying the basic requirements of existence while counteracting the tattoo of silence with the chattering inanity of mass media. On those days, I don’t even open the blinds. The lives of others drift quietly by, but there’s a profound sense of disconnect. It has nothing to do with me.
Today, for some reason, I did raise the blinds. Even though I could feel the creeping fetters twining around my limbs, the wide louvers neatly clacked against each other and the scene outside was allowed to materialize. The hands on the clock inexorably rotated around their centre, marking the grinding passage of hours.
The sunlight chafed its way through, drawing distending shadows on the blank walls and ceiling. Flat on my back, I drifted in and out of a fitful sleep, weaving fragments of sound from reality into a turbulent unconscious realm. Until the golden hour.
Distracted by the gentle snoring of my feline companion as he contentedly napped near the open window, I tilted my head back to drink in the familiar aspect of his frame. But my gaze was soon drawn through the unobstructed panes of glass.
Twilight had already obscured the foreground, smoothing out the harsh angles of sidewalk and street. The softening sunlight had caught the colour of a distant apartment tower, its golden, buttery hue making it a distinct object against the unblemished sky. In fact, the blue acquired a vast, almost otherworldly tinge, especially in comparison with the warmth radiating from the sun-warmed siding. I sat up, squared the scene, captivated.
The endless stretch of sky and the radiating heat of golden, reflected light provided an indescribable connection to a crossroads. I felt like I was observing a confluence of elements, of concepts. The unbending, familiar shape of the past radiating from the calm, rough face of the building met the expansive hopefulness of a future yet to be realized in the ever-expanding blue welkin. Probability collided with possibility. The outline of eternity couched in fantastic, unimagined realities. It was all there, condensed into this one, simple scene.
The sunlight darkened to velvety night. The river lazily twirled towards the ocean. The gradient of trees on the opposite bank crept up on the cityscape like moss. The clammy fog was dispelled, fragile bonds broken.
It’s going to be alright.