A painted desk and a single chair. A suspended stained glass globe of light. An inexpensive bulletin board cluttered with photos and quotes and bits of poetry that had at one time or another moved me. That was all that fit—the only furnishings in a space created by a dormer window off the bedroom of a third floor walk-up apartment I had called home throughout my thirties. I loved that almost hidden place of reflection and creativity. In a time before computers and printers and reams of paper and the necessary files, that small desk’s single center drawer was the only storage I needed in which to cram my notebooks and letters, pens and pencils, and an eclectic collection of oddities brought home in my pockets and stowed away as treasure.
It was my safe place and haven. Nothing except the bulletin board was new. Most all the furniture in the entire apartment had been drug home from flea markets and curbs, painted and reupholstered, wiped clean and repurposed. The desk itself was wooden. Nicked with age and worn. I painted it gray for no other reason than gray was the only color of enamel paint I found in the cupboard under the sink. The surface damage was undisguisable, so I had simply stapled a piece of poster board to the desktop. This makeshift covering was fluid and changeable and created a perfect place to scratch down phone numbers and ideas. And sometimes I added tiny flowers and other joyful things; sealing them fast with Scotch tape and dreams.
There were water marks, too. Rings from coffee cups and wine glasses. Without question, tears had also stained the words and numbers recorded there. Those were difficult years, and I so treasured the security of that space by the window that looked upon the roof of the house next door. It was possible to see the cross street, but only if I stood with my face pressed against the glass peering down and to the right and the left. No one could see me. No one could find me. I didn’t have an answering machine, so if anyone called and the phone rang and rang the logical conclusion was that I was not home. So I left the phone unplugged a lot. Oh, I how I loved that precious corner of third floor space. And how I wish it was possible to tip toe into my memories and sit at that painted gray desk by the window just one more time and often.