Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Hidden Room

The exterior of the imposing apartment building looks just like an oversized cinder block. It is large and sterile and bleak, its façade devoid of any feature or embellishment. It is clean and gray and practical, a building to live in, nothing more. No craftsmanship to admire, nothing added besides the necessities; the angles of the apartment building are sharp and hard, 90 degrees protrude with the practicality of an iron fist. It’s bare bones architecture, humorless and without emotion. It simply is a block, a square implanted within the soil and erected on the stretch of cold land without nostalgia or sentimentality. On each of the seven floors, there are simple square windows every 10 feet.
On ground level, there is a single metal door that leads in and out…either outside to the silent streets of a gray midmorning, or inside, in to the dark, cold palace of practicality.
Within the building is the hidden unpractical, the one great flourish of the architect who screamed silently into his plans and burst forth with a glimmer of possibility. It is the hidden room, the room of quiet existence, masked from observation on the ground floor by a wall that hides its entrance. Behind the thin façade of cinderblock is a large, two level room built halfway above the earth and partly within the cold soil. Spanning the entire length of the room, from end to end, is a narrow flight of stairs made from a shiny blend of cement and crushed rock. Upstairs, (the level above ground) is a single twin sized bed and a red velvet loveseat with curved wooden arm rests beside it. Twenty feet from the bed is a single wooden desk with a single wooden straight backed chair pushed into it. Upon the desk is a wrought iron lamp without a lampshade or light bulb and a single piece of clean white paper and a pencil laying beside it.
Downstairs, the part of the room submerged within the earth, there are six wooden dressers filled with clothes clustered in the center of the room. Within the dressers are men’s slacks and button up black shirts, there are clothes for little girls, pink party dresses and small white socks. There is a sequined evening gown and a stained apron and an entire drawer of silk lingerie and lacy brassieres. There is no division or organization within the drawers or dressers between sex or age, all the clothes are mixed up and wrinkled…socks next to shirts next to fur coats. Scattered next to the dressers and piled in heaps upon the cement floor are more clothes. Polo shirts and Batman underpants and silk pajamas and cotton T-shirts. All the clothes are clean, but wrinkled. On the second floor of the room (the ground floor of the apartment building), there are two windows that open directly to the gray sidewalk above.
A single daisy pokes its yellow from the space in between two large slabs of cement, the flower stands like a survivor of color in the square frame of the window. The light in the room comes solely from the two windows which casts the space in a bluish hue that is accentuated by the cement flooring.

No comments: