While trying to find a drawing to illustrate another posting, I came across a painting I did while living in Tucson, a million years ago, just after getting married, while my husband was in graduate school.  We lived in an attic apartment, which I remember very clearly because it was a lovely apartment, the nicest we'd ever had, very clean and new, an apartment remodeled for a sorority girl, we decided, because the trimmings were pink and shiny.  We entered the apartment from the back of the house, climbing an outside stairway that led to a deck where we had many gatherings. Inside was the kitchen with a view of the mountains on the north side of town.  There were no hallways in the apartment, so the kitchen flowed into the living room which was seperated by a frosty glass door from the one bedroom that had two large windows overlooking the street.

It was strange that we chose to live in that particular apartment, since my husband is very tall and could only walk along the center of the apartment without having to bend over, and since living in an attic in a place like Tucson is not a very sensible idea.  We ran the air conditioning year round. But because it was a dry heat, sometimes the nights cooled off enough to open the door and the windows.  Before we moved in, the landlord had installed heavy dark screens over the two windows in the front of the attic, the only windows except for the sky light in the bathroom and the window in the kitchen.  I almost cried when I saw the dark screens.  I called the landlord immediately.  He suggested it was good to have these sorts of screens in Tucson to help keep out the heat.  But the screens were so dark that I could barely see out the windows, and what good is a window if not for seeing out of?

I suppose he must have taken the screens off and not replaced them with other screens, because there was a period of time, on those winter nights that were cool enough to open the windows, when a cat would sneak into our apartment.  Back then, we slept on a futon on the floor and the cat would wake us as it scampered over us.  There must have been something about the cat coming in and out of the window at night that we both liked because we didn't try to stop it, but let it come in even if it woke us.  The cat was always gone before morning.

If it weren't for the painting, I wouldn't have remembered that for a short period of time in Tucson, a cat came into our apartment at night, even though I remember many other things about that apartment.  I do remember the smell of cigerette smoke wafting from the downstairs neighbors and the haunting calls of the trains that crossed the desert throughout each night and the way my heart would jump every time I saw the man who lived in the apartment next door because he looked so much like an old boyfriend of mine, and the strange fact, that I didn't learn until much later, that this man was an identical twin which was why, when I tried to say hi to him on campus, he ignored me, since it was his brother, who didn't know me, and not my neighbor.  I remember the mornings after the parties on the deck when the fun had gotten out of hand, and I would have to call and apologize for my husband's behavior, like when he poured the crumbs from a bag of greasy potato chips all over a woman's head, a woman who we both liked very much, or when he declared how we would of course be invited to a fellow grad student's wedding when it was already evident to all that we weren't going to be invited, maybe because of the potato chip incident or maybe because of something else altogether.

But then we had a baby, and though at first I thought everyone had been wrong and that having a baby wouldn't change our lives that much, everything did change.  People stopped coming over to have parties on the deck, not because we stopped inviting them, but because they were nervous about the baby.  And the cat no longer came into the apartment at night, most likely because the thought of a wild cat scratching out the eyes of the baby made me nervous enough to insist the landlord put up screens that would keep out cats but let in the light, though I don't remember the details, just that the cat no longer woke us in the night, though the baby often did.

None of these other things I painted a picture of and yet I remember them very clearly.  Without the painting I recently found, I never would have remembered about the cat coming into the apartment at night and the peculiar feeling it gave me, of allowing a wild piece of the world to explore my private corner.  What else do I not remember about that time, and many other times, that I would remember if I had only bothered to paint it?

1 comment:

  1. Those were the days. Those were the days. Those were the days. Those were the days. Thanks for bringing back some memories for me.