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.

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One Response to “My apartment”

  1. Jackie Says:

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


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