This was home since January. It lived in me as much as I lived in it.
Some may detract, point and give the Nelson ‘haw haw’ to see a grown man living in his friend’s attic room. Look in the mirror when you do. I know you have been somewhere similar.
Abundant light came in the windows, diffused and soft, breaking on the whites and neutral colors. Cold snaps were beaten back by the bathroom’s heater, which rattled when it came on. The carpet was soft and clean, with plenty of it to lay things down. On the right, against the sliding doors, I had my wardrobe in piles: shirts, pants, sweaters, an abbreviated collection for the past four months.
My late grandmother’s farmhouse is in picturesque Bucks County, Pennsylvania. When visiting as a kid I would stay in the attic, not as finished like this, but with the same configuration. The roof’s spine arched inward to an apex, and windows were at the ends, run over with grit and cobwebs and generations of winter-killed bugs. On the end nearest the stairs there was a giant Philco console radio which still worked, and which I would play softly at night. The glowing tubes were weirdly comforting. I remember in middle school wondering if it had played original broadcasts of The Shadow or FDR’s fireside chats. Radio was new to me then, a time machine, a mysterious force, something adult and vaguely taboo. I put my ear to it as I turned the knob listening to shock jocks and New Wave that seemed inappropriate for it.
I could see stars through the window against Philadelphia’s glow.
This attic is fifty years newer than my grandmother’s, finished to magazine-photograph quality it in a way hers never could be. There is no radio, yet by the stairs there is a little room where Oscar keeps his Mr. Wizard menagerie of servers and modems and other hacker whatnot, all little green lights glowing. It provides a different comfort, something out of high school or college when all that stuff had magic still.
The space changed as I was there. It was grey and cold and isolated, a freakout chamber. A place to make calls from, to hide under covers. Later it was barely able to contain release and freedom just as it collected centeredness and grounding. The cat liked it.
As we all know the space didn’t change at all. Neither did the cat, not really.
Here it is on the day I left:
The big green duffel was almost too heavy to carry. I took too much stuff with me. We always take too much stuff with us. I think I am where I am now to leave some of it behind, to stop carrying it.