Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rootless: Finding the Light

Bananas in light, St. Louis, Missouri

Whenever I enter my new apartment in Lafayette, I feel good. It’s a petite package. Feels cozy.

Truthfully, it’s also a little homely with its mishmash of salvaged floor surfaces, groaningly-ugly cabinet pulls, and how the sheet-metal back of the stove’s control panel faces the living area. I don’t care about these imperfections.

Lights in slats, Jefferson City, Missouri
There’s a big problem, though. No light. This is a function of the direction my windows face and the width of the eaves over my windows. It doesn’t help that several walls are chocolate brown, which would be lovely in many circumstances, but not this one.

I imagine the lack of sunlight in my Lafayette apartment will be a boon in the hot and humid summertime, but for everyday habitat, something must be done.

It reminds me of that hotel room I had in Lalibela, Ethiopia, in which town I had a major meltdown that distressed the city fathers. An excerpt of what happened after a gruelingly emotional day:
I went to my room, to my dark, depressing room, and discovered it hadn't been cleaned. Returned to the reception lobby, discovered that the custom is to turn in my key when I leave the hotel, so the staff know to clean it. Oh! Then I said, really, I need a different room. It is just too depressing. The assistant manager accompanied me back to my room. When we entered, he moved to turn on the light and I exclaimed, "The light is already on!" I said, "This is the room you give to someone who no longer has the will to live!"

It was not one of my finest moments.

Lamp glow, Warrenton, Missouri

 So I’ve got to gather some light.

Strategies I’ve implemented:

  • Before I go to bed, I open the curtain in the living room so when I awaken in the morning, I actually know it’s daylight outside. Seriously.
  • Open the bedroom blinds during the day so a little light can reach in.
  • Unscrew all the bulbs in the bedroom’s ceiling fixture except for one, and keep it on when I’m home.
  • Also keep one of the kitchen fixture lights on when I’m home. The kitchen is open to the living area.
  • Open the front door for maximum sunlight during the day.
  • Propped my full-length mirror against one of the brown walls in the bedroom so it can catch as much reflected light from the living area as possible. 
  • Moved my office set-up so I am looking toward the door and window instead of where I had it originally, where I was facing toward the interior of my apartment (and the window at my side). 

Strategies I will execute soon:

  • Work outside on the veranda regularly, weather permitting, so I can actually experience sun reaching my skin when I prop my feet against the balcony rail. Not to mention see the sunlight.
  • If I can swing it, I’ll pick up a work table and chair that are tall so I’m level with the living room window. In other words, my head and torso will be above the windowsill.

I've had to gather light before. 

When I first arrived in Rustavi, (Caucasus) Georgia, I lived on the 4th floor of a grim tenement building. The color and warmth of the people within this building countered the depressing exterior of my building and its neighbors, but that wasn't my first visceral experience.

I had envisioned a "hills are alive" postcard view of  Georgia and what I had before me was something I imagined a city in Siberia to look like at the height of the Soviet regime, only hot.

To make this work, I had to find the beauty in my surroundings, and so began a series of The Building Behind Me. 


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