Friday, September 24, 2010


My mother has an uncanny ability to turn any space in which she finds herself (all of her houses over the years, my dorm rooms, my brother's dorm rooms, my apartments, hotel rooms, guest rooms) into a home.  She could, I imagine, live in an empty room and make it seem somehow warm and inviting and cheerful.

Sadly, this is a trait I did not inherit.  I, unlike my mother, have the uncanny ability to turn any space in which I find myself (all of my apartments, hotel rooms, guest rooms) into the equivalent of a dorm room.  Clothes scattered in corners, books and boxes and this and that piling up around bedside tables, papers washing up over desks and dressers and counters like waves cresting on a beach.

Of course, my detritus has changed since college days.  Novels accumulating at alarming rates in my to-read piles instead of books on Vietnam and its shaping of cultural notions of American masculinity. Knitting projects scattered unfinished on tables instead of half-written papers lurking accusingly on a recycled laptop courtesy of family friend and IBMer John Crow.  Mounds of wool spilling uncontrollably out of baskets instead of old Snapple bottles half-filled with cigarette butts gathering dust on windowsills overlooking Broadway or Claremont or that funny little triangle where Claremont meets 116th.  (Now I have overgrown avocado plants gathering dust on windowsills overlooking another funny little triangle where Pinehurst and Cabrini collide at 187th Street.)

I have been trying, granted in incrementally miniscule ways, to make things a little nicer, a little homier, a little less dorm room lately.  I painted one of my bedroom walls a couple years ago a lovely pale shade of green, and friend Josh gifted me this gorgeous print for my birthday a few months back, and it's about time I get it framed and up on the wall.  A couple weeks ago I finally got around to hanging a new shower curtain and replacing my ratty old yellow shower curtain rings that stopped staying closed a long time ago with these cute little flowers instead.  Also recently I finally found a comforter cover that I like, in shades of white and green and covered in little flowers (yes, more flowers).  (Unfortunately Llama has also already grown fond of it, and her black fur shows up smashingly against this pale background.)

I know it's not much but, well, it's a start.

My mother will be visiting soon, and will work her sadly temporary magic while she's here, and my apartment will feel more like home than I've ever managed to make a place feel on my own.  But maybe this time a little of that magic will wear off on me, will maybe stick around for awhile after she heads back to her own home again.

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