Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Life in Lighted Windows




Everyone has a story.

Now don’t mistake this for “true confessions of a peeping Jane,” but for years I’ve had this strange interest in looking at houses. I especially love the charming or grand homes--driving past them at night and seeing their lighted windows. Sometimes I'll catch a glimpse of the homeowner's décor or a flash of activity, and then imagine the stories going on within those illuminated windows.


I’m also intrigued by mountain shacks you sometimes see all alone beside a stream, or curious little houses tucked away in a grove of trees. Who lives in those places? Perhaps a family of gnomes? A deranged killer, hiding out? An elderly lady who believes she owns any creature that crosses her property line? And if I lived there, what would my life be like? What would my story be?

Years ago when I lived in New York City, I had that same lighted-window awareness. My apartment faced the Empire State Building, and I could see it standing in the distance. The surrounding buildings blinked with changing geometrical patterns of lighted windows. Each one represented at least one human being whose heart was beating with life. Was he or she painting, arguing, brushing teeth, watching television, or maybe sitting at a desk, writing a novel? Was this human being challenged by disease? Disillusionment? Defeat? Disappointment? Death? A piece of chocolate cake beckoning from the refrigerator?

Everyone has a story.

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