Tag Archives: Virginia Woolf

HAUNTING OUR FAMILIARS

Tucked up in my living room I sit in a big chair I had no need for, but purchased anyway, and it has become my writing place.  My living room is odd, spanning the entire front of my house and it doesn’t make sense in any objective way.  I am told the family that built the house, back when my little street was the end of town, had a grand piano and where I sit now the piano sat when the house was new, sometime in the mid-1920s. 

A grand piano, baby or otherwise, is the only way to make sense of the room. 

But now this chair fills an odd corner. 

Early morning writing is the only way to make use of this corner and this chair. There is a bench here, too, but it only has company when I entertain, and that hasn’t happened in a very long time.  In fact, it was the favorite spot of my pal, Otis, who came to my get-togethers, dragged, I think, by his wife.  He anchored this end of my living room with another put-upon husband, Vance, and over our antics and silliness I think they bonded. 

Otis told me once he finally had a good time at one of my parties and then I quit having them. So, now when I sit here, trying to think of something to write, I channel Otis and Vance, and think about how much I miss them.  Those parties, though, they about killed me getting everything ready, but now I wish I had thrown a few more, because you never know when your pals may leave you for good. 

I wouldn’t think of them nearly so often if I were sitting in the writing place I prepared upstairs.  If the living room is odd, running the length of the house, the large bedroom upstairs is equally odd, running the width.  It makes for a nice, sunny room, but somehow too big for a bedroom, although it has some nice features like a window seat and a nook. I am turning it into a sitting room and office, but really, it just sits there wondering when I will get in gear and do something, anything with the space.  

I have an antique table I bought solely because of the brass feet shaped like dolphins.  When I sit  at the table with the dolphins I look out over the backyard.  This is pleasant but the view rarely changes and it isn’t as inspiring as I thought it would be.  So, to chat with you each week, I sit in a chair I didn’t need but have come to love, look at all my familiars from a different angle, laptop, sitting squarely when it was designed to be.

Virginia Woolf talks of a street haunting, walking out around nightfall, some insignificant errand excuse enough to explore her surroundings.  How different it seems. The street cloaked in fog. Furtive figures hunkered down in coats, hurrying…home? Or some secret meeting of the business or personal kind  But she begins the essay in her sitting room.  Noticing the clock.  The hole in the hearth rug, burnt by a rolling log, an ember, a careless guest. 

Sitting where I never sit is a bit like a street haunting. It turns my attention in a different way, through other windows, the half-shadow I never notice hanging about my front door. The leaded glass as resolute as the fir door it sits in, the way it throws rainbows on the wall as the sun sets, all fairy lights and dancing color. It lasts but a minute.

The refracted light I see every afternoon. From this chair in the morning I see the prisms.

Interesting how we can haunt our own houses, our own familiars.  Important, too, perhaps. My unnecessary chair has become my favorite perch.  Not for very long and not every day, but it lets me look out different windows, lets me see the backs of things, reminds me of old friends and the ghost of  parties.  The reflected and dancing light of place, from this angle and that.