This is the picture window in our breakfast room.
It hasn’t always looked like this. I don’t think we wrote on it–ever–until Emma was home-schooled in the 7th grade. That’s when she helped me see that this window would make an excellent substitute for a white board. And so, throughout her three years of home-school, this window occasionally bore math equations, sentence diagrams, and conjugations of Spanish verbs.
In fact, the entire right side of the window is still covered in verb conjugations (leer, vender, escribir, recibir), some residual practice after her instruction back in May.
Why is it still there, you ask? Well, maybe because I loved home-schooling her, and there’s a part of me that’s sad I’m not doing so anymore, and I’m just not ready to erase it.
And also, cleaning that window is kind of a pain, and maybe I’m lazy, or maybe I’m just doing other things.
Older still is the text on the left side of the window. I don’t remember when that got there, but I think it was also sometime this spring. The five of us were eating dinner, and somehow one of us conceived of an idea for what we thought would be a very funny movie, and the next thing you know, we were creating a trailer for said film. We thought we were so hilarious and clever that we felt the urgency to write it all down.
So what you’ve got on the left is a list of ten shots, not necessarily in sequence, that would comprise our movie trailer, and I don’t want to erase it because it’s hilarious and a conversation piece and a memory of a fun evening.
Also, Will wrote it, and soon he won’t be living here anymore.
At the very top of the window is a line from Everett: “Espanol es mi FAVORITA ……Calcitines.” Not exactly correct spelling. Not perfect grammar. But it is very funny (“Spanish is my favorite… socks”). His spelling includes the tilda over the “n,” and, again, he wrote it–maybe a year ago. So I’m not terribly interested in erasing that, either.
The latest addition, there in the pink at the bottom of the left-hand side, also written in Will’s hand, is some to-do’s for Bill for Will’s upcoming wedding. I think we’ve checked all the items off by now, but clearly I haven’t erased it yet.
It’s a good window.
As you might imagine, the scrawl we have written here makes it tricky to see out of. Depending on how the light hits it, it’s less a window and more a whiteboard, and in that regard it is more a record of our family than it is any kind of lens onto the outside world.
Which is fine. It’s our window, our breakfast room. And we have other windows in here. I am under no obligation to clean it. No one has asked me to. And when I’ve been working in the backyard–at other times, with other text scrawled across the glass–sometimes strangers have stopped and asked me what it says and why it’s like that.
I’m always happy to tell them.
But when is a window not–also–a metaphor?
Here is our view, colored by our humor, our labor, the things we focus on. It is, in a very real way, a record of what matters to us.
Beyond the glass, the neighbors walk by with their dogs or their strollers. The leaves change, twist, fall. A woodpecker lands in the upper branches of a maple. And a resident neighbor, barely visible through the trees, makes use of a leaf-blower.
We would miss so much if we didn’t also see these things–if all we knew was what we chose to study, what we thought was funny, the tasks immediate to our hands.
If we always only saw what we’d written on the glass, then we might as well have no window at all, and replace the whole shebang with a white board that dully reflected ourselves to us.
From whom we learn so little.
In the course of my 47 years, I’ve had some trouble with people. Not everyone, and not always. But I’ve had people who antagonized me or who, no doubt, felt antagonized by me. I’ve been envious or resentful. I’ve felt with absolute certainty that certain people are mean or selfish, hard-hearted, wrong.
And let’s be honest: each of us is each of those things, often more than one of them at any given time, at multiple points in our lives. In our days.
But every time I’ve been helped by the grace of God to look past those perceptions and taken the time to get to know better the person who is offending or hurting me somehow, I’ve always learned that my perceptions weren’t the whole picture; that there was far more to see, appreciate and love than I had been able to imagine; that I had been, in my judgments, Wrong.
Every time there has been more insight, new understanding, greater appreciation and love.
Forgive me if I’ve been a little bit preachy here. It’s been a difficult week, and heaven knows there’s been a lot of preaching. And forgive me, too, if the window metaphor wasn’t just a wee bit too obvious.
If need be, chalk it up to my being a writer, to my needing to do some verbal processing.
Thank you, nonetheless and always, for reading.
And now I think I’m going to clean my windows.