The View from My Window

The view from my window is not quite the beauty I imagined, years ago. It didn’t come with a famous creative writing disclaimer: “This isn’t good enough!” It is streaked with bits of cloud and greasy rain that clings to the single panes in a mockery of winter.

Red tile roofs? Can I have me some Spanish red tile roofs? If I squint, and look several blocks down from my level three piso, I can see a few, scattered just as intermittently as the palm trees in this on-the-fringe, immigrant-ridden neighborhood.

Instead? Run-down row homes, cracked walls along a courtyard aching for maintenance, its sad sprouts of wishing-to-flower plants drooping like withered beans in the midst of a seasonal downpour that they were not prepared to encounter. The street bleeds with life from the early hours of the morning, first with traffic on this central artery leading to downtown, and then earlier in the morning with partyers who linger like plaque along the corner capillaries, trying to sober up after visiting the nightclub down the block. Painted-white aluminum Persian blinds block out most of the windows in my view, their attempt to trap in warmth and keep out the evils of a steady rain as pathetic as a surrender flag held up by a villain still holding a knife, ready to strike.

The inner courtyard speaks a slightly different story. Yes, the rain has reached here too, but with a different set of fingertips. It drips from the metal clothes racks, the nylon lines, and soaks through freshly-washed laundry, its pungent smell, aching of wet sidewalks and age, present on t-shirts and pants when, hours later, we will lay them out in front of the tiny space heater, homemade dryer number two, to force them wearable. But the courtyard itself? It sings with craving-for-rain plants from our neighbors below, with the chirping of caged birds who share stories with our whistles, with the clinking of plates from the sacred three-p.m. meal.

The view from my window in this small city in Spain is not what I thought it would be. There are no waves, no clear vistas of mountain peaks, no perfectly clipped palms to remind me that I live in paradise. So it is when we imagine our dreams, too perfect for their reality upon accomplishment. But as I rise this morning to rewash our rain-soaked sheets, to sit under layers of blankets with my hoodie on, my hot Macbook keeping my legs warm, my youngest popping out of her bedroom to share my covers, the clouds retreat, a quilt of gray tinged with the pink perfection of a late-morning sunrise, and I know, despite the tainted view, that this is still my home.

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