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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Old doll, old wall, new window

“This rug tape won’t come off.”

I stopped what I was doing and gave him the please-for-the-love-of-god-figure-it-out look. “Put some more paint thinner on it,” I offered. “Use a razor blade” and then I mumbled from the other room, “Or just leave it there. Let the next tenant deal with it.”

I rushed about the place, as we were already late in turning the keys in. Violent arm and leg movements hurriedly slammed cupboards, tied trash bags shut, kicked a random screw under those horrible sofas that the furnished rental had come with, wiped the cheap faux wood table down one last time where we’d had countless meals.

This was it. These were the remains of our valuables, the only hints of the five years we’d spent in this flat: a shriveled plant on the windowsill reminding me of my inability to accept responsibility for anything, some old cleaning rags and a bottle of Don Limpio that got the place sparkling to a state that contrasted sharply with how it had looked while we lived there, a couple of old winter coats that didn’t make their way to the suitcases we’d stuffed to breaking point, a half a dozen unidentifiable gadget pieces we weren’t sure if we should throw away or if they would end up being the secret essential pieces we would need to get our vacuum cleaner or coffee pot to work again when they break. Everything went into the last crate.

He took the crate from me and started down the stairs to the car. “Vamos.”

“I’ll be down in a sec, I just have to grab the mop and stuff.”

I just needed one last look. I’m a glutton for this I guess. I suppose I had seen my dad do it on his countless relocations. This was what I did when I moved. I just needed to do some final mind engraving, some psychological mapping, some primitive photography. I took it all in. It was just so. The sofas were over there just like that; we had sat just right there, with the TV over there and right there was the window where he had stood. I can't forget.

I shouldn't.

Those walls. It was the walls that needed to get in one last finger shaking at me and they called me back in for one last talking to, as if I were in my late teens moving out of my parents home for the first time, getting one final scolding on not meeting curfew the night before my move.

You know the kind off walls that are out of style nowadays but that everyone had when we were younger? The ones with the drywall spray texture that created all sorts of camouflaged eyes and pointing fingers, hidden demons and genitals that turn into clowns? Now they angrily pulsed and swirled until my cheeks finally became wet and then they stood still again.

I had snagged on these walls, they had pulled at my weak loose strings and had latched on until I had unraveled completely, until all my innards of spongy stuffing had spilled out before them, right here on these cheap sofas. They had seen that, contrary to popular belief, I was not actually stuffed with diamonds and rose petals. I was stuffed with possibly-toxic synthetic material. They were so judgmental, these walls. They loomed over me and forever scolded me and never ever forgave. I guess these particular walls didn’t have the chance to see much of the good parts of me.

He had picked up my stuffing and pushed it back inside me carefully. He had sewn me back together slowly, trying not to damage my original form along the way, remembering what I had looked like brand new on the store shelf, the smell of sweet plastic, unopened. Once he had put me back together again, he scrubbed my face clean and combed back my stringy hair, and straightened my tattered dress. I wasn't the same, but he wasn't one to throw imperfect things away.

Those walls had been witness to all that goodness too.

He finally placed me in the crate to take down to the car. He was taking me away where the walls could no longer get at me.

I dried my eyes and closed the door for the last time.


I suppose my new walls are in a state of shock from the Ecru #C2B280 they were so generously coated with, intended to erase their memories of the previous dwellers.

These walls and I are still in the getting-to-know-each-other phase and actually I’m quite agreeable initially. I have the kind of face that looks attractive the first few times you see it. You have to look at me awhile before you begin to notice that one eyebrow is actually higher up than the other, that one eyelid droops down slightly, that my forehead is always either frowning or raising my eyebrows up to exhaustion, that my mouth is unusually small and that my thumbs belong on a member of some mythical diminutive race. I’m actually quite funny at first too. I can be witty. I let out little jabs so one will know what kind of cultured individual they are dealing with. To those walls, I must look like a brand new doll; that sweet smell of strawberry plastic.

But I’m not afraid of them here. They don’t have the hidden genital clowns embedded in them. They are smooth and stainless and they don’t have any opinions yet. And there aren’t as many of them to gang up on me unexpectedly like before.

Besides, all the windows in this place keep the walls in check, and I find windows to be altogether friendlier.

Don’t you?


Nukke 2 by vaula from flickr.
Doll with cracked head by zen from flickr.
Sister of chucky by peasap from flickr.
Untitled by Luisito

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Tobi January 28, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

That was worth the wait. Your words always punch me in the face (in a good way). Don’t stop.

jen January 28, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

the places we live change us - for better and worse.

it's why i hate moving, but find myself doing it so often.

the windows look amazing :)

Blues January 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM  

@Tobi - Thanks. You really did get me to post this.

@jen - I know, it's what worries me. That all those places I've lived are with me somehow and some of them I wish were not. But for now, yes, I'm loving the windows. I don't want to move for a long time.

Pueblo girl January 28, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

So great to read something by you again - what Tobi said, well worth the wait.
Fresh walls, fresh paint = conducive to fresh mindset, maybe? Perhaps possibility of leaving gloomy-wall-inspired sense of oppression behind with dessicated houseplant?
Hard to feel suffocated with a view like that! Welcome windows.

People in the Sun January 28, 2010 at 8:04 PM  

And look at that--a swiveling ashtray! Man... that takes me back a few years. Actually, we still have one of those in the basement somewhere. Just in case.

Looks great. Reminds me of James Stewart's apartment in Vertigo.

I was a mover for a while, so I know how shocking it is to see a home being emptied out to become just walls and carpet stains.

kate January 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM  

Gorgeous view-- best of luck in the new space. Great to hear from you again!

The Unbearable Banishment January 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM  

That last photo is a killer. That's how I use to live. My heart's desire is to return to it again one day. Please don't lose your appreciation for it or take it for granted.

Maggie, Dammit January 29, 2010 at 1:23 PM  


The post, the new view, all of it.


Welcome to your new space; I think it will like what it sees.

Mongoliangirl January 29, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

In our shower wall there is a lovely bird, a dog that looks like one of ours, and an evil clown trying to eat a puppy. If I could just stop looking at the clown...
What a post, Blues. Made me so happy in the end.

flutter January 29, 2010 at 5:01 PM  

you so rock this writing thing

Ellie January 30, 2010 at 7:22 AM  

Holy Shit! That view is fantastic. Makes me jealous!

I have recently made a day trip to Madrid (recently being yesterday) ... mainly for work but I fit in a little flat hunting. All going well, I'll be settled in a semi permanent place in mid Feb.


Blues January 30, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

@Pueblo girl - yes. fresh walls, fresh paint, fresh start. I can only handle cacti now. I know that about myself.

@People - Busted! I was like, "no one will notice the ashtray". As to the views, I´m finding binoculars is not enough for me anymore. It´s telescope time. I doubt I´ll see a murder though.

@Kate - it´s good to be back!

@Unbearable - everyday I pinch myself. They are gonna have to drag my ass from this house.

@Maggie - thank you. It´s nice to see you again.

@Mongolian - so you have the crazy clown walls too? Mine had creepy angels in them.

@flutter - thank you. I just wish ANYTHING would come more often, even if it´s no good. It just doesn´t come that much. Is this like a muscle that is supposed to get exercised or how does this thing work? I find that I have more ease with writing when I´m reading more, I guess that´s not so surprising. But now I spend my whole entire day reading about iron and steel plants and oil refineries and that doesn´t lead to any inspiration. It only leads to me being too tired to read anything else, and hench not much to inspire me to write.

@Ellie - we searched for years for that view and finally found it.

Ginny January 31, 2010 at 11:37 AM  

You've earned that view.

I have found myself sobbing on freshly shampooed carpets, walls bare, more times than I care to think about. You've articulated it beautifully.

People in the Sun January 31, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

No no. He sees a murder in Rear Window. The apartment in Vertigo is just a nice apartment in San Francisco, where he can see the city from his window. (That's the only picture I found.)

Rassles February 1, 2010 at 10:29 AM  

Are you going to paint this time? I think you should paint. Big giant colors.

Here In Franklin February 3, 2010 at 5:24 PM  

I never scary walls, but I am in love with your view. I think a view makes up for a lot.

Schmutzie February 5, 2010 at 7:54 AM  

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday:


Yo Momma February 5, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

That's an awesome view.
I've moved twice this year and when I left each place, I went back, took a quick mental picture of the place. Like a thanks and goodbye type thing.

and really? Don Limpio? Even their household cleaning product sounds seductive over there! haha!

Susan February 5, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

I remember those crazy clown walls! I'd lie on my bed and stare. Mine were screaming faces and bunny rabbits.

A Vapid Blonde February 6, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

Hi, the first time I have read that how you say it.

A. I love the your header image...beautiful

B. I have doors that have animals...but one is a roasted chicken.

C. Homes become a part of us...they see it all. I can't imagine leaving this house that my husband and I built. It has our vibe and we have its vibe. Your new digs look amazing!

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