It is just a small two bedroom cottage; the garden in the back is almost as big as the house itself. It is decorated deliberately, but also as an afterthought. Most of the pictures are thumbtacked to the wall. The house is clean if a little cluttered. Most of their mail is high-class gloss ( the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly) or plees from charities they have likely given to in the past. They have tacked paint swatches to the wall to take time in deciding what colors to paint them.
There is a selection of books that reminds me of my vow to not read another second-rate book while there are so many more classics than I can read in my short life-time. Here I choose between Guns, Germs and Steel and Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. I settle on the latter partly because it is shorter but also because I am beginning to forget why I fell in love with the writing style in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Then I commit to Kundera, a big glass of Charles Shaw shiraz, and the queens of jazz (Ella, Bettie, Etta) for the rest of the evening. I could read my own books and listen to my own music, but why not partake of the best someone else’s home has to offer?
In that same vein, the next morning I breakfast on strawberries, raspberries and blackberries from the garden. They are the sweetest to ever pass my lips, not a bitter fruit in the bunch. The juice from an enormous strawberry runs down my hand like rivulets of blood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen juice flow from a store-bought strawberry.
I am writing this because it occurs to me that I am more comfortable in this house, the house of two people I have never met, than in my own home. Sure, it is a little cleaner here, and the ample, uncovered windows make it much brighter. But it is more than that. I like myself more in this house. I want nothing more than to dance and read and draw and write. These are the things I love, these are the things that make me who I am.
But I find that at home, these are not the things I do very often. Writing is something I do away from home, a catastrophe because I arranged my living room to make it as writing-friendly as I could. Perhaps to write, I must be alone? Or perhaps I don’t like to write in front of San’s critical eye.
This is no small matter. The one thing a writer needs, besides something to scribble on and with, is a mind free of criticism.
Additionally, there is always the tug of television. Truthfully, I don’t much like TV, it is an over-rated drug that all my friends are hopped up on. I find that when San goes out of town, I don’t watch any TV at all.
I read half of The Book of Laughter and Forgetting the first night. I remember now: the way he asks questions of his characters and then always answers them, the way he is a character in his own novel, freely admitting that each character is fictional but they are still somehow so real. It is beautiful and intimate and honest. At one point, I weep.
I have so many things to do this weekend. Kat is moving to Azerbaijan today; tomorrow is queer pride. I think of how my sweetie says I never leave the house. It is not true! I am never hestitant to leave my home, with its dark, dusty carpeting and piles of boxes that still remain unpacked. But this house, this house that appeared as if out of my dreams, I want to be sequestered, contained. This house of strangers that lets me be myself for the first time since I’ve remembered who I am.