Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Angel at the Top of the Stairs

(It hangs over me.)

Before I stepped out for work — and I had stepped out a few minutes late this morning — I heard my doorbell ring. Whatever the cause, it could wait until tonight, I decided, and I drove off to work, looking back for a moment to see that, yes, there was someone standing there, apparently trying to get through the front door. But when I got home, I walked around to the front of my building to see what note or package or dead, nailed-to-the-wall cat could have merited such an early morning call. So what was there? Nothing. I have no idea still who stood at my front door this morning, and I have to assume that whatever they wanted to give me, whether warm handshake or firebomb, will be extended again at a more convenient hour. It won’t worry me any.

Still, it seems noteworthy that post-nothing, as I climbed up steps leading from the front door, I felt increasingly tired to the point that the top step made me sit down, then lie back, then fully spread out on the floor and look up at the light fixture that hangs over the top of the stairs. It’s old. It’s older than my grandmother, and she’s old, yet it’s been cared for and preserved and maybe even restored. And me lying there, on my back, at the top of the stairs, well-lit but alone in an otherwise dark apartment, I just looked up and thought about what scenes it’s presided over and what it knows and how its white plaster makes it as close to classical as you can get in southern California. And I thought about the Greek statues that this light fixture clearly wanted to imitate. And I thought about perfection and nemesis and tragedy, because why shouldn’t a stupid light fixture make you think about Greek mythology?

Eventually, I was upright again, and chopping vegetables. I honestly couldn’t say what got me from the top of the stairs to the kitchen. I watched Modern Family and then Adventure Time — because why not? — and then I drank more of the wine than I intended. But before I get to bed, I’ll go back and turn off that light at the top of the stairs.

The light may be my favorite part of the new place.

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