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Posted on August 6th, 2019

The Geography of My Mind – The Window

The view out the window was bland, no matter the time of year. But still, he sat there and stared, seemingly waiting for tomorrow. His life was not much at all: no friends to speak of, no family, no pets, no love interests, no hobbies; just a dead-end job at a dead-end factory, somewhere he’d been since barely graduating high school. His one sort of luck may have been the era he came up in; had he barely graduated high school today, this job wouldn’t be waiting for him. Whatever’s worse than “dead-end” would be the hand he was dealt.

Every day when he got off work, he came home and stared out the window; he did the same thing before work, too. All his meals were taken by the window, the TV was within eyeshot of the window; there wasn’t much else that he did or cared for in that house – or his life – but that window gave him some strange comfort. He tried to keep a few plants alive, and near the window, but they died, always, every time, before too long. It wasn’t that they didn’t get good light or enough water and fertilizer; he really did try his best, reading books on the topic, getting advice from experts, etc., but that house was so depressing it killed the plants. Seems they never found the window all that wonderful. But he did.

He’s never had a guest to his house, several servicemen, sure, but not once in his 30 years there had anyone set foot in his house who wasn’t there for business. It wasn’t that he was cold or distant; in fact, quite the opposite. He used to be gregarious and glowing with energy, but for so long it was never reciprocated, and eventually, all that was alive inside him just died. Except for his love for that window.

He’d often fall asleep in front of the window. Sometimes simply because he drifted off watching TV, but more often because it was the only place he felt comfortable; the last place he felt a little love from the cold world outside. Eventually, he stopped going back to his bed. He’d worn out one old recliner, and with the small pittance of savings he had from his meager earnings – he never spent anything but he never really made anything either – he splurged on a nice big comfy recliner, the kind that has controls to help you get up. He wasn’t fragile, not yet, but he was older, and he lived a sedentary and unhealthy life. He didn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but he ate very poorly and never exercised. His only movement came from shuffling to and from his car to work and back home again. It didn’t help that all his food came from the corner bodega; not a fresh fruit or vegetable in his diet ever. Each morning he crawled out of the safety of his big comfy chair by his beloved window; he could feel the creaking in his bones. His back hurt worse every day, the feeling in his legs were often gone. He hadn’t seen a doctor (or dentist) in years, and his face constantly showed a clear sign of defeat. He was on autopilot, but for a plane that was on course to crash and burn in a distant field, never to be found, or cared for, again.

Light the way…

It came as no surprise, then, when in his early 60s he had a heart attack and died. They did an autopsy, of course, and apparently he’d had several smaller heart attacks (and a few strokes) over the last 15 years of his life. The doctors all treated his lifeless body objectively, they all made comments referring to the sad state of his life. The hospital’s “loved one’s outreach” team took great effort to find his next of kin; they had no luck. They contacted his employer, letting the company know he would not be back. They asked who would settle his estate; no one knew.

The man wasn’t a church goer, he never volunteered, he didn’t even know any of his neighbors by name. One concerned employee from the hospital took it upon herself to reach out to his insurance company and settle his affairs, closing accounts, and securing an estate lawyer. She felt it her duty, as she always did, to make sure that even those whose lives were clearly void of any significance at least had the dignity of having their affairs in order before they were put in the ground. His case rang especially hard for her as she had never encountered anyone who didn’t have at least one friend or family member, even if estranged.

She got permission to enter his decrepit home, and she was immediately overtaken by the foul smell and general state of disrepair. It wasn’t that he was a slob, necessarily, but he just didn’t care, clearly. It was largely in a state of benign neglect; but even then its disregard compounded over the years: it appeared a very depressed and isolated person lived there.

She walked into the room with the window, the one clear bright spot in the man’s life, and immediately she felt a surge of energy; it was as if she could tell this was where he had any semblance of joy in his life, even if fleeting, and even if only very minor in its impact. But she assumed, and rightly it would seem, that the man lived for his time in front of the window. One glance throughout the rest of the house indicated that all his living went on by the window; everything he held dear was within reach of that dim and indirect stream of sun that came through the window every day between two and six in the afternoon. She wouldn’t stay long enough to see the moonlight at night, nor would she hear the cacophony of bird and bugs, and the one hoot owl, that made a concert every evening. She wasn’t there early enough in the morning to see the squirrels that played on the window sill, or the rabbits that ate the fields of clover from his unkempt yard. But she did see, by the chair where he lived and died, a stack of books, some about insects and birds, the other about urban mammals, and she realized that the window was more than just that – it was his view to the entire world and he was more than happy to have it in his life.

Marco Esquandoles
Parolee

 

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