Collaborate2011

Turning a Window into a Wall, Katherine Sanders

In Katherine Sanders, nonfiction, poetry on July 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Last week I saw a man turning a window into a wall. He was standing on a slanted roof jutted up against the side of the white building where the hole was being plugged. The glass was removed from the window and a row of steel bars was installed instead. He slowly fit globs of plaster on the bars and the spaces between them until they became part of the wall, identical to it. Boarding up windows became a common practice in the late 18th century when France, like Britain, put a tax on doors and windows. Aside from the money, I can understand the impulse to fill in a window, retain some of that privacy, keep out the shadows of big spaces, see only what is immediately surrounding me. I often wish I had windows into forbidden places, people’s thoughts, the future, the past. When I first moved to New York I had to acclimatize to the space. A two bedroom apartment became spacious, an uncrowded subway station became huge, an open field in a park, any park, is massive, Central Park is a monster. I feel more comfortable now in small spaces. Paris spaces feel just as small, maybe smaller, but older, curvier, more unexpected. And a window in New York or Paris feels like a natural compromise between small spaces and large spaces. I can look, without having to leave my enclosure. And I adore my privacy. So much so that I’m likely to stay at home when I could go out, close my bedroom door when I could leave it open, withhold personal information when I could share. But I never stop being curious about the other side of the wall.

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