Monday, September 15, 2014

A Perfect Room

In my entire life, I have been in two perfect rooms.

I was privileged to stay, to sit in one of them hundreds of times. It was in my grandparents' (mother's parents) Pelham Parkway, Bronx apartment, the living room, to be exact. The walls were beigish salmon with the molded lines that I loved. The carpet was gold by that time, and the oldish couch was upholstered in a cotton material of beige, brown and tan with gold threads. The cocktail table held both a large glass bowl and smaller ones filled with candy. (1940's-1960's, if you wish to imagine the furnishing era.)

The little two-tiered beehive table housed a cranberry colored glass dish and two little gold cups and saucers I had bought my grandma for some birthday of hers when I was seven. It also held a nut dish with those old fashioned silver picks and matching nutcracker. In a white and silver glass dish were 15 pieces of artificial fruit - apples, bananas, oranges, tangerines, pears and grapes.

The TV sat in front of the back wall and the twin windows with greenish-olive and gold curtains with sashes. Formal royalish chairs sat on either side of the TV and presented themselves as oh so perfect for looking out on the fire escapes and the wet street and the grinning gargoyles of the mellow bricked building across the street in the rain. The rain seemed to bring out their grins.

On either side of the couch were side tables with several drawers. At this stage the drawers held albums of photographs. I could and did at times look through them for hours, just as I did watch TV from time to time, but mostly if someone else was watching.

In the front of the room, on the left side of the entrance arch, was the bar, which held many types of glasses for parties and a fair selection of liquor and wine.

I wondered at times what it took to make a room like that, a room so perfect that one didn't want to leave. When I was in a pensive mood, I liked to make myself sad by imagining what it would be like if I had to live in that apartment and sit in that room alone, after no one else was around.

Sadly the time came when much of the furniture and glassware w-ere sold, and my grandma came to live with us in Cherry Hill after my grandfather died. But she and I and my mom never stopped missing the apartment and that room, in which, my mom told me, she had lived and slept when the greatgrandmas (her grandmas) occupied the second bedroom, one at a time. When she moved out after she married my dad, she said, it became a living room again.

I have been back many times and looked up at the apartment, seeing each room in my mind's eye. I never rang the bell or knocked at the door of those who occupied it after. I didn't want to see the changes.

This way I get to go on seeing it as it was then. Indulgence of the most cloying sort, I suppose.

But I can't help it.

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