The windows first appeared in the autumn of 1987. I had recently graduated from college and we had moved across the country for K's new job. Quite lost and barely functioning, I found a therapist.
Early on she gave me an assignment to make a drawing of how I saw myself five years into the future. I brought back a rough crayoned self-portrait in a blue room with three windows across the back wall. (I had always wanted a blue room, but that’s another story…) The room was empty except for a table piled high with books and a cat underneath. My sketched self was sitting in a chair peeking out from behind the stacks with a tentative expression in a barely there face- dots for eyes and a line for a mouth, with a bit of a curve at each edge trying to look pleasant and acceptable. My hopes for the next five years were quite bleak.
A couple of years later, I was further down the path of healing. Once more she asked me to draw myself in the future. I drew the same blue room as before, but with a few changes. The table was gone. There were still heaps of books, only now they were stacked in comfy mounds on the floor around the edges of the room. The same trio of windows covered the back wall, this time framing a view of a big apple tree laden with rosy fruit. My figure stood front and center, smiling, bookended by our two cats, and K. leaning in the door with a wave and a grin.
Five years after the original drawing, we began the search for our first house. As we walked into each house, K. and our realtor would go on and on about the views, spaciousness, appliances, etc. Every time I would stop just inside the door and announce, “I can’t live here.” Often there wasn't a reason, just a feeling, but I knew it was true. They grew more and more exasperated, and the search went on.
One day the realtor called to say there was a new house going on the market near the school where I worked. “It’s not what you’re looking for. It’s a mess. But it’s close to your work, and in your price range. Let’s take a look.“
We met outside the house. We stood across the street staring at it. “It’s yellow,” I said, “an ugly yellow."
Even so, we went in.
It was a mess. The owner had died, and all of his belongings were scattered throughout the house in piles, as caretakers prepared for an estate sale. The house was covered in dust and dirt from the process. We stood there in the living room, K. and the realtor shaking their heads with disapproval, and I said, “I think this could be it.” It was just a feeling. The realtor was confused, K. was worried, but we continued through the house.
Upstairs there were two small bedrooms and a tiny attic room at the point of the house (it was painted Pepto-Bismol pink, and only the center of the room was it tall enough to stand upright in). There were no closets on the main floor, one small bathroom, and a dark narrow kitchen with splintering floorboards and a cracked countertop (broken, ugly, molding, and made of a substance that couldn’t be identified.)
There was one more space, a half of a room at the back of the house. Walking toward it, I could see the walls were an old dingy blue, but still, blue, with three windows across the back wall, framing a view of a tall old apple tree.
“This IS it,” I said, and knew it was true.
We've been here almost 26 years now. Blue was born in that little room. Moon came too fast and arrived just outside of it. We had it extended so it could be our bedroom. The contractor argued with me about keeping the windows, and painting it blue. "You'll want new, insulated windows," he said, "and blue is too cold for a bedroom."
"Blue." I said, "And we're keeping the windows."
When he and I stood in the finished sky blue room with the old windows set into the new wall, he said, "You were right."
I said, "I know."