Friday, November 02, 2012
“There’s a balcony.” I tell my New York friend.
“A balcony? Wow that’s pretty snazzy.” She replies.
“Well, when I say balcony it’s really more like a fire escape.”
“So you don’t really have a balcony. Your building has a fire escape.”
“Yes, I think that’s a fair assessment of what’s outside my window”
I can’t swear she rolled her eyes, but I think I felt the eye roll of judgment upon me. It really is an issue of how you look at it. To me it’s a balcony to the rest of the world it’s a rusted fire escape which will require a tetanus shot.
James Thurber, a wonderful writer, was going blind. His vision was failing quickly. A reporter asked how he felt about it, one of the truly stupid questions. I loved his answer
“It’s not so bad- where everyone else sees a brown paper bag blowing down the street; I see an old woman in a raincoat doing summersaults.”
How I see it: I have always had a mental picture of me leaning over the rails of a New York fire escape. I’m wearing a wife beater shirt, cigarette dangling from my mouth, 3 days growth of beard. I watching the kids play stickball in the street. I may be Italian in this picture. Yea, I know I should aspire to more.
Actuality: A 48 year-old man trying to get through a small window to an unstable fire escape, feet too big to maneuver, legs not limber enough and a small yelp of pain when the hip feels like it’s going to pop. It’s a sad little sight indeed.
“It’s not how I envisioned it.” I tell my sister over the phone while I clutch the rusty fire escape, clinging for dear life.
“Maybe you should move to Seattle.” She says.
Hmmm, I could see myself on a fishing boat, wearing a Greek fisherman’s hat, weathered face, cigarette dangling from my mouth and a Scottish accent. Maybe I should.