This week, the weather has been quite moderate. With the temps being in the 100’s (Fahrenheit) just days before, the current 70’s and 80’s for daytime highs is sheer delight. Just yesterday, it was possible to sit outside comfortably almost the entire day. With audacity, I opened a couple of windows for a short while before the air conditioner roared to life combating the late afternoon sun. Today, I have enjoyed cool air and spitting rain while contentedly sitting in my “new” synthetic resin stackable patio chair. (A creative application of glossy black and textured bronze spray paint to 10+-year-old plastic seating declares it new.) Bolder even still, I opened all windows, throwing back the drapes which are normally blocking out the penetrating heat.
It is a strange feeling moving about my home with the drapes drawn aside and the windows open. It is a vulnerable feeling. I am aware of every movement outside. I hear the voices of neighbors, the opening and closing of doors, the sound of incoming/ outgoing cars. I hear the rush of traffic along the main road. I hear the stirring of the dried leaves and fallen branches as the stray cats and native squirrels scurry by. Wild cherries fall and the rat-a-tat-tat echo announces their path of gravity across my patio. All these noises seem natural and of no significance when I am outside already, but the clarity of these sounds from the interior of my home is a bit unnerving.
As I sit by a window while typing this post, my gaze collides with the landlord’s through his car window and my window screen as he rolls by for his daily drive-by inspection. I am conscious that the sounds of the squeaky bathroom door, the flushing toilet and the running faucet are easily heard should someone be outside as close as the parking area or on my porch. Indeed, it is a vulnerable feeling, a feeling of exposure.
These windows open remind me of younger years. Home did not include air conditioning until I was a teenager. It was necessary to have windows open, day and night. This was normal. My days for the most part were spent outside as were the early evening hours. It was much cooler and more comfortable. I don’t remember feeling exposed. Then I migrated to the big city in my 20’s, to the concrete world. Windows were never opened; time spent outside was limited to walking to and from the car to drive to another concrete building. Eventually, the great outdoors triggered allergic reactions, particularly in the spring and fall. Brief exposure to the elements on a windy day made the simple task of filling the car with petrol a threat, often leading to another sinus infection. What once was considered a blessing transformed into a curse.
Once upon a time, it was natural, normal and safe to live with windows open. Not just within our homes but within our hearts as well. It is a bittersweet reminder of those times watching the precocious little girl. When I am with her, I feel as if my heart is outside my body but tenderly cradled in her hands. There is vulnerability but with no threat. It is natural, normal and safe.
Now within a concrete world of boundaries, defenses and offenses, we feel vulnerable, exposed and threatened when others peer through windows open to our heart. We respond with allergic reactions, expecting and fearing another bout with psychological invasion and emotional infection. With vulnerability comes threat. It is as if we are unnerved by the noises of the outside world and we live within a cocoon of enforced safety and sheltered sterility. The space allotted for unfettered faith, unconditional love and spontaneous joy is under lock and key in the deep recesses of our soul.
A neighbor left before I sat down to type and is still away from home. Her guest is sitting on her front porch just three or four car lengths away from mine. He is shirtless and talking loudly and with great passion on his cell phone. I hear every word. Perhaps I will wait til later in the afternoon to reclaim the comfort of the glossy black and textured bronze painted plastic chair.