Saturday, November 15, 2008
“Same old slippers,
Same old rice,
Same old glimpse of paradise.”
-William James Lampton
We drove some weeks ago past a neighbouring apartment, and I chanced to look up at a window that was without curtains or shade of any sort.
I registered, among the garish yellow beam of a bulb, the outline of an oblong object: a guitar. The instrument was set upright on an armchair; the chair was pushed against the window frame, its back facing the street, so that only the neck and upper portion of the guitar were on display, rising from the shadows.
The scene seemed suspended, just long enough for me to witness it perfectly, even as we sped onward.
That unseen fellow plays guitar.
That was the logical conclusion to arrive at.
I know something about the person in that apartment, I thought confidently, before the endless possibilities flew forth and I was forced to accept that I knew nothing about the matter.
Maybe he was an expert in repairing guitars, mending the instrument for a customer or a friend, either making a perfectly fine and comfortable living or preparing to earn dinner with the proceeds.
Maybe it had recently been bequeathed by a deceased family member, rendering the new owner with a musical burden and much guilt about precisely what to do with it.
Maybe it was a stolen guitar, robbed in the night, leaving some callous-fingered soul out there desperately grieving the loss.
Maybe it was a gift for an aspiring songwriter, not yet delivered because the giver was uncertain how to present such an awkward shape.
I ruminated on many such notions long after the fact: I had only a moment to see before I continued on to my own, known life, to a living room which is without an armchair, to windows which are shaded, to a home which differs greatly in physical appearance from that half-seen corner.
I was compelled to stare at that window. It offered the most subtle of glimpses into a world not my own, at once comforting and lonesome, a reminder that people everywhere are the same though they take drastically varied directions, and leaving us to guess at the myriad branches of possibility, most of which we will never come to know.
It is the blunt unfamiliarity that strikes the senses and unsettles the viewer, not the routines or the thoughts or the essence of lives.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:40 PM