When I was little, young enough so that I had to stand on my tippy toes to look out the front door window, I can remember spending oodles of time in my front hall. It was a cavernous entryway, with a large wooden front door and the glass window had diamond shaped panes of glass that I later learned were called cottage windows. The floor was brown and white patterned ceramic tile, with two steps that led up to the entry of the front room, and there was an oil painted replica of Dali’s Christ of St. John Over the Water hanging perfectly at eye level with the door. I would sit on the top step, in the late afternoon, as the sun shone in streams through the panes of glass, and watch the dust dancing through the beams as if they were magic. I thought they were pixie dust – they were far too pretty to be every day dust, after all... and surely my mother would hate that I reiterated this here to you, if it was just her lax with the vacuum that filled my daydreams and not something far more magical.
Today, though we moved from my childhood house twenty years ago (oy, that sounds terrible... that I can say I did anything twenty years ago just sounds odd), but I know that room to be less than cavernous, probably a bare four feet from doorway to steps, and the arching door led straight into our front room... ah, my favorite part of Chicago homes, we have front room rather than living rooms or ‘Great Rooms’ or ‘Drawing Room’... what makes them great? Do you actually draw in them? Okay, well, I could probably get into that last one... but it’s one of the things that’s so a part of me, Chicago is low on its pretention, just the way I like it.
I went on a girls’ weekend this weekend, with two of my friends from high school... I may be posting more on that later – with pictures if I get their permission first, and have been waxing a bit philosophical about perspective, and the way things change with age. I don’t think dust is nearly as pretty these days and I kind of miss that mindset, that there’s something magical in dust – at my age it’s only another of life’s irritations you try to keep at bay, but can’t quite master.
I wonder if you guys can page back and remember what it felt like to look out at the world from tippy toes, to have to hop and pull yourself up to sit on your parents’ car trunk, to see snow about your head (though it’s only four feet)... I can remember that vividly. I remember the feel of bite on my cheeks that was so cold it felt hot and made my face glow a crimson candy apple red beneath my scarf and little red snow suit. I hear the laughter, loud vivacious guffaws, from the front porch where the adults sat while we ran under streetlights in the summer.
And I think, maybe that’s the allure of writing for children. That there are these things in my head that I still feel and see and understand... more keenly and more magical than any of my adult stories... maybe I’ll dive into those later, but those early days, the newness the heartbreak that you steel yourself against later – the things that lose their bite as your skin gets thicker... those are the things pulling me now, today...
How about you? Has your perspective changed in leaps and bounds? Can you still feel and see and smell things from other passages in your timeline? And do those things motivate you to write, or are there other things, pulling your fingers along the keyboard?