Rain and WritingFebruary 15, 2012
Mmm. It's pouring outside. We have the window open, and the occasional shuuush of late-night drivers going by punctuates the tapping of the rain. I love it. What is it about rain and writing?
It reminds me of something I learned not all that long ago when I was walking one evening with Lala in Rockridge. It was that magic moment when lights come on inside houses but the curtains are still open, when you can see fathers coming home, kids racing around living rooms, mothers putting fresh-baked bread on tables (yes, because this is the way I was raised, my brain still sees the world this way although it decidedly is not this way in most cases). I love that moment, spying on that snapshot of families being together.
Every once in a while when you're walking at that time of night, you'll notice a light shining, high above in a third story window. You can see the ceiling, and maybe the top of a painting, but from that angle you can't quite make out what else or who's in the room.
In my head, there is always a writer at that window. I think there's always been a writer at that window for me, ever since I was a child, and I mentioned it that night to Lala.
"You know," she said, "not everyone thinks there's a writer up there."
"Really? No, of course they do."
She's an artist, so I asked, "Do you think there's an artist there?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes I don't think about it."
This was something I had never considered. That window was a beacon to me. That was the dream. Someday I'd have a garret window, and I'd sit at it, writing late into the night.
Then I realized I did have that garret window once. When I was about ten, we moved into a farm house on an old, overgrown Christmas tree farm in a small, coastal town. We had a barn, and a horse, and chickens (oh, I hated those chickens). I had the attic bedroom, a tiny cramped space with sloped walls and rafters that even at ten, I had to duck to avoid. It was tight and compact, and I loved it. The back of the chimney formed the back wall of my closet so on cold winter mornings, my clothes were pre-heated for me.
Even at that age, I sat at that window and stared out at the canyon late at night, and I felt what I should write. I attempted it, over and over again. "Once upon a time..." I'd get two or three pages in and I would fail to convey what I'd meant to, and I'd give up and get back in bed with a book, a real one, one that told the story to me the right way.
But I tried again, over and over again. In a way, I'm still sitting there, even though I usually write in the cafe now, or in my car, or on my breaks at work. No garret window necessary. The writing gets done anyway. But I still long for that, to sit at a high window overlooking over a rainy street filled with pedestrian traffic. And maybe, just maybe, the people below would be wondering if up there behind the glass was a writer, or an artist, or a photographer, hoping for a window of their own, too.