The afternoon sky was a milky white smudge when I sat down at the little garden table on my balcony to listen to some music and stare into the horizon. I had just finished talking to my partner about wanting a room of my own, or in my case, a corner of my own; a place where I’ll be able to peacefully sit down to relax, gather my thoughts, read, listen to music and work on various projects that I come up with or get assigned.
Three fat pigeons were sitting on the neighbors’ balcony across from me, their feathers ruffled and wet from the light rain; so light it was barely noticeable for someone sitting on a canopied balcony with her consciousness only partly aware of the surroundings. One of the birds looked especially roughed up and was sitting apart from the other two. I sat there and wondered how come the pigeons always sit on that particular balcony. Is it the high wooden fence our neighbors added? Is it the plants?
Then there were four of them and for a moment it seemed like a fight is about to break, but then two birds compromised and moved to sit on the air conditioner. Not as prestigious as a wooden fence but definitely more desirable than a bird fight.
Compromise was all I was about that day. All I need is a corner of my own to curl up in. I’m on a mission to optomise my environment within the structural limitations of the house. Sitting on the balcony and writing this was a good solution for that day. It was a foggy, chilly day; too risky to set up writing camp in the real outdoors but just right for a quick idea-scribbling session in the safety of our concrete garden. It was undoubtedly better than spending the afternoon on the couch with the computer on my lap and aimlessly clicking away for things to read.
Music sounds better outdoors. It’s the best companion for anyone surging into the wilderness of the city — or observing bird interaction while trying to sort out your thoughts.
The murky-white horizon was charming, and the tower was gone. My partner got jokingly upset and said that the only reason we’ve rented this apartment in the first place was so we could look at the tower every day. After all, it was one of the tallest towers in the world. In the evening the tower would light up in a myriad of brilliant colours; red and white that made it look like the Japanese flag, then glamorous pink that travelled up and down the long and narrow structure, creating a captivating spectacle. Sometimes it would turn purple or blue, and sometimes you’d only see gentle specks white light elegantly flowing through the steel and glass.
But on that day the tower was gone. Was it even there to begin with? Did the creamy swamp in the sky engulf it whole and transfer it to an alternate universe where people woke up this morning to see a huge tower standing in the heart of the city they’ve been living in for years and decades? Did they just scratch their heads and wonder if it’s always been there? Did they panic? Did their government try to convince them nothing was out of the ordinary, writing people who claimed otherwise off as crazy conspiracy theorists?
Or perhaps it was me who’s moved to an alternate universe. The tower had never existed here and I’m about to find out that what seems like my apartment and partner and cat are in fact someone else’s home and family. Did this universe’s me move to the universe I came from? Is she surprised to see the tower? Does she think she’s lost her mind? It’s one thing to have a tower disappear one day, but seeing a 700-meter tower standing where yesterday there was nothing — or worse, a school or a shopping mall or a hospital — sounds somewhat harder to digest.
Or maybe I’m just seeing the world for what it is for the first time. Maybe I needed a big shiny tower to be a part of my everyday landscape so badly that my brain had created one. Sometimes you want something so much your brain will make up for its absence. What I really need is a corner of my own. It doesn’t necessarily need to have a view of an impressive urban monument; it just needs to be cozy, familiar and private. A space to read and listen and write. Today I found a temporary solution right here, at home — or my home but in a different universe.
The tower was gone but the birds didn’t look concerned. By the time I had finished writing the foggy blanket ahead allowed for a glimpse of the tower, wherever it was standing now, its top erased by the clouds. It was a beautiful day.