Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The books have an inch thick layer of dust on them. These forlorn books are located in the impractical unreachable bookcase behind my main computer monitor. I must teeter totter on top of the desk to do the dusting. I bravely pressed on today and broke out the rags and dust stuff. After planting my dust cloth flag on the upper reaches of Mt. Everest Bookcase, I ran across something I had written shortly after we had moved to a "real" house; a house with things called walls, real plumbing, and hot water! Prior to 1991, we had been living in the green studio. It was located across the street from the University, and catty corner from Yum Yum the hot dog and ice cream place. Funny thing is we rarely ate at Yum Yum when it was crowded with University students and families. We enjoyed Yum Yum on Sundays, when the establishment was closed. In the warm months, We would carry our Sunday morning meal over to their outdoor terrace tables and spread out. We got a kick out of drinking our coffee and reading the big Sunday paper, and having carloads of people stopping by thinking Yum Yum was open. Most times we would continue enjoying our hearty breakfast while the people would try the Yum Yum door. Then they would skulk back to their cars, wondering who the heck we were eating breakfast there. :) Yum Yum's is still there, but sadly the green studio is gone, a victim of the University's voracious appetite for land. An undignified parking lot now paves over what I affectionately called the Studio: La Bateau Lavoir (as a nod to Picasso et al). While cleaning out the bookcase today, I happened across something I had written about the La Bateau Lavoir. The year was 1992: The Studio was a dear yet poor friend without possessions, but one I could live with, breathe with. The Studio breathed. When the wind blew, the plastic covering the ceiling moved, in and out with its breath. It was alive, that old place. It as a place one could talk to and it listened attentively. Other creatures sought it out for their habitats also; like rats, roaches, and the occasional squirrel, but we all lived there in its realm of knowing. It was a wise old building, more at one with nature than any other place I have lived. We lived with the heat in the summer, the cold in the winter, and watched the seasons change through the overhead skylight. The place had a wry sense of humor. You felt it when you entered and if you stayed a while, it became contagious. We thought we had outgrown the old place; business clients would be offended by its peeling paint and dusty concrete floors. We were growing financially and needed a real house to live in, a better car to drive.. so we got a regular car and a real house, the kind that regular people live in. We were moving up in the world, or were we? Somewhere moving up the ladder of success, we began to lose our spirit of living. Perhaps it was left in that old building; that old A & P store built at the turn of the 20th Century. Perhaps it held the secrets of our happiness. Maybe I just hate housekeeping! The La Bateau Lavoir did not require mopping and sweeping. It simply was. Eric Fromme, the author and philosopher, wrote about the contrast between intrinsic and instrumental values. La Bateau Lavoir was embrued with intrinsic goodness and humor.