Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Darkness on the Edge of J-Ward

Windows open for a reason.

Granted, it's only been a few weeks since mine were opened for the season, but I'm already reaping the benefits. When I hear "Stel-la!" or "Karen Kay!" I know one of my friends is down on the sidewalk (or, like today, in his car, sunroof open) awaiting my arrival and I return the call from one of my windows.

When I invite a friend who's never seen my home to come upstairs this evening, I take pleasure in hearing compliments about my apartment and its abundant local art, tragically forgetting to show off my latest acquisition, an absinthe spoon shaped like the Eiffel Tower.

But it's the "I love your open windows!" comment that gives me the most satisfaction.

It's those open windows that bring the neighborhood into my apartment, too. I've heard it all: lovers' quarrels, drunken conversations, birds squawking to protect their nests, overly loud motorbikes, sirens. I often smell rain coming before I hear it.

Just now, hearing the sound of a truck idling outside, I go to my window and see a man climbing out of a utility truck. Spotting me, he waves. "We're just here to fix that street light," he says, pointing to the one between the two of us. In the dark? "Wouldn't want you to come home to darkness," he explains as if he knows my hours.

But of course, between my working and playing, no one knows my hours, sometimes not even me. There's a fair bit of crossover in both given what I do and how I do it.

Working at home, perk or drawback?

When I saw a friend had posted that question, I presumed it was a rhetorical question. Who wouldn't rather work at home? Turns out lots of people for all kinds of reasons.

They like having a work social set. They need the discipline of enforced attendance. They want to get out of the house. A "real" job validates them.

Not me. After six years of working at home, I still think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. I love researching and writing in my underwear on a hot day. Sometimes I invite people I'm interviewing to my apartment so I don't even have to go out for that (although I do dress for them).

But not too often, because I like going out. Hello, have you met me?

Today's interview was in a glassed-in room on the fourth floor of the VMFA (a floor you have to be escorted to because it's off limit to visitors) where we had a bird's eye view of workers on top of the Virginia Historical Society, stately Benedictine and the old Johnston Willis Hospital apartments in the distance.

And sky, lots of bright blue sky.

My subject was a photographer who runs almost as much as I walk so when we weren't discussing photography, we were comparing routes and views. He takes his camera when he runs to capture anything that catches his eye, much the way I take mental notes on my walk to report back on my blog later.

He's a busy man so our interview was only set for 45 minutes due to his crowded schedule. The only problem was we found ourselves on the same page about the pleasures of two-footed travel and the unexpected things to be seen from that vantage point.

It's so easy to geek out about the wondrous tableaux life lays out for you on a walk or run when you meet a kindred soul who notices the same. Although it turns out that no one ever says, "Workin' it, girl!" to him like a guy did to me in Shockoe Slip today.

No, silly rabbit, workin' it is what I do in my apartment with my windows open. Among other things.

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