My apartment

15 October 2008

My apartment is on the fourth floor of a terraced building in a neighborhood where all the streets are named after men, some with doctorates. There are new hardwood floors, and white-painted nubbly walls. The rounded ceilings in the front hallway are peeling & flaking because of water damage. There is a mirror framed by squares of colored glass, & a handwoven runner. The front door is thick, varnished hardwood, with a porthole with a little brass sight that can be closed by means of a hinge, & has a handle low & in the center like many doors in Europe.

The kitchen has granite countertops and blue & white tiles on the walls, & maroon tiling on the floor, and a small wooden table, and a gas heater installed around the water pipes next to the refrigerator that you light in the morning when you want a hot shower. The stove is gas also & is not self-lighting; you use one of a number of little lighters in the drawer next to the forks & spoons & perform a delicate operation that involves lighting the flame not too closely, because there is no oxygen for the flint to spark, & then jumping back reflexively from the sudden whoosh of blue flame & swearing inexpertly in Spanish.

The washer is in the corner, and a line for hanging laundry to dry runs out the window on a pulley & to the wall of the next apartment building. When it rains there is a small drying rack indoors.

The living room has two couches covered in bright, cheerful yellow throw sheets, & the terrace has been enclosed with glass & made a part of the room in order to make it appear larger, & the thin linen drapes are usually kept partly drawn. On the couches are bright red or blue throw pillows, with stripes. There is a television that receives a number of channels that show dubbed American action movies, Spanish sitcoms or soap operas, gameshows, & an historical bodice-ripping serial drama about heroic Iberian resistance to the Napoleonic invasion called 2º de Mayo which I watched two hours of last night, aided by a half bottle of rioja crianza, and which merits its own entry.

There is a spare white bookshelf with black vases & knicknacks, stark, sophisticated monochromatic bits & pieces, and the two shelves of prestigious white hardback classics editions I mentioned, in their bewildering eclecticism, which I see now includes not just Freud, Capote, Camus, Pablo Neruda, García Lorca, Cotázar, Borges, & Hemingway but also Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men, and Proust, & Faulkner, who for some reason I cannot imagine in translation.

The bathroom is all orange & white tile on the floor & up the walls, and there is a sink, & a toilet, & a toothbrush stand, as you can imagine, and inside the prodigious shower which has not just a showerhead the size of a hubcap but also six middle of back-height massage nozzles, there is another small window, & it is separated from the room not by a curtain but by a head-height divider of opaque orange & clear glass cubes.

In my bedroom, which is smaller, the dark wood armoire is built into the back wall, & there is an infinite amount of shelving & hanging space for the possessions I didn’t bring, and also a small & mysterious collection of little figurines & ceramic nothings I found when I came into the room and hid in a drawer – a couple of witches, a little wood chest, a glass ball.

There is a writing desk, where I have installed my typewriter, & two little wall shelves for my books & other things: a bilingual edition of Borges’ collected poetry; the University of Chicago Spanish-English dictionary; Gabriel García Marquez’ Cien años de soledad in the Spanish & in the English translation; an edition of Pablo Neruda’s poetry I bought in Sevilla that turned out to be choked up by academic footnotes that kudzu the pages disappointingly & drown out the stanzas in useless biographical speculation; a disposable Kodak & my 35mm camera; a yellow painted teacup mass-produced in China; a calfskin planner with light blue, extremely thin pages edged with gold; a stack of green envelopes; my stationary; a pile of pens; three different maps of Jaén, only one of which is useful; loose change.

My bed has a cheery striped bedspread, cream with orange, navy, & green, & a heavier blanket for underneath when it gets cold at night, and it rests in a kind of child’s bunk crib with more storage in drawers underneath, so that the mattress is edged with the wood lip of the crib, and I bruise myself when I leap into bed to go to sleep at night. Through the window, as I have said more than once, I can see across the street to the neighbors’ terrace, hear children playing in Spanish down in the street, see the laundry on the line, a pair of tennis shoes, a jug of water, the pigeons on the Spanish tile who raise their wings & duck their heads down into the downy feathers on their chests & stand very still when it rains, and above, on the top of the mountain, finally, the castle, which is lit up at night, and that looms over the city always.

One Response to “My apartment”

  1. Jackie Says:

    I love your descriptions. This is all certainly book material.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: