Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Other Room





A fair portion of the books Gerry Boyd sent me have now been shelved. Some are here in my parlor and workspace, and quite a few others are in the spare room where I worked each morning while my mother was still here. I wrote whole books in that room, and other things that have since scattered to the wind as pixel or print. I used to keep a careful record of such things, but in recent years I’ve wearied of the process. Which story was published when and where has gradually become more an archaeological concern, a matter of sediment, tides, and tree rings. Occasionally an old stump will appear after wind and drought have ravaged a particular corner of closet or mind, a shot-riddled road sign, or bleached, gaping skull. On my websites, though, I’m much better organized.

The other room, in fact, now that the books are there and the fall light is spilling in, has gained in appeal and seems to be taking on new life. I go in much more often, and, despite the presence of a bed, it isn’t hard to imagine it as a second workroom. I hesitate to use the word “studio,” and yet what better place to experiment with art in other forms — painting, perhaps, or music. I can also see closing the door behind me and not emerging again until I’ve written a new novel — or until I’m hungry, or needed by someone on the telephone — which, come to think of it, I probably won’t hear ringing.

My current workspace is entirely open. It has a large window and it faces the street. The nearest door is the front door. Anyone can walk in and see what I’m up to. Our grandson is free to roam. By instinct and gentle reminder, he has learned what not to touch. He touches it anyway, of course, but only in fun, and besides, I want him to know the feeling of old books and furniture, typewriter keys, hats, and the knick-knacks my mother collected over the years, including the heavy flat iron her mother once used, and the old Victrola salvaged from the house of a crazy old relative. I’ve seen him in wordless conversation with old photographs — one in particular, of my father and one of his brothers when they were little boys, but others as well, going as far back as his great-great-great grandparents. And as far as I know, they could be in touch somehow.

What makes this room a parlor is that it’s also a place to sit and read and talk. More often than not, though, I am a salon of one, which explains the mumbling.


Update:
In the Forum: black and white and read all over.

10 comments:

vazambam said...

"A salon of one" indeed--and a unique one at that.

William Michaelian said...

You’re just in time for coffee, unless you’d prefer something stronger.

Gerry Boyd said...

I;m so happy they have a comfy home with someone that truly appreciates books.

William Michaelian said...

Haven’t heard a single complaint out of them yet. Oh, there’s the occasional whimper or tear, and a request for a stamp now and then when one or another wants to write a letter home. But all in all I’d say they’re settling in.

Momo Luna said...

Haha and now i can hear the mumbling. I love these stories so much William. The wonderful words full of love for family and books. As if i was there once in your home and as if i know your family for real, recognizing them as old dear friends. :-) A family of which i only can dream and now a little bit the dream come true, experiencing it by reading your words.
Thank you for that.

William Michaelian said...

I’m glad you can hear the mumbling, and even make out the words. It’s as if you are here. And I thank you for that.

don't be emily said...

I love when you write about your grandson. :) One of those lovely practical growing parts of life that we can't ever put into real words..and you speak it so well.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Katie. The little tyke is good enough to humor me, so the least I can do is try.

Gigi Little said...

what a lovely moment, your grandson in "silent conversation" with past boys of the family. what a lovely musing about rooms and that hugeness they hold.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Gigi. They do have lives of their own. And I know my grandson does. We’re lucky to see it unfold.