My apartment in San Francisco has a living room with several large windows. They are tall, magnificent things in the common style of Queen Anne victorians. One looks east, out onto our back porch, and the others are a set of bay windows that look down to the street below. All that glass makes for a bright room in the morning, even on days rife with clouds. Connecting the front of the house to the rear is a long, dark hallway, altogether the opposite of the brilliantly illuminated living room. If you were to stand at the front door and watch me walk away, down the hall, I would appear as a shadowy silhouette surrounded by an ethereal luminescence, so dark is the hall in comparison to the room at its end.
On winter days when the fingertips of a chilly hand creep inside the hills and valleys of our city, brushing gingerly about the streets and snaking through the gaps in windows, my brain is rewired, just for a moment, as I enter my living room. The white flare of morning light coming in the windows, I’m certain that they’re frosted over. There’d have been a snowfall last night and just outside, a frozen expanse of white crystals are diffusing the harsh sunrise, a wave of radiance being thrown against the house. I put on water for coffee and let Joe Purdy’s “Highways” carry me the rest of the way home. A cognitive slip I am happy to entertain.