Skip to main content

Rear Window


Growing up on South Draper St. in Champaign, IL., I had the best bedroom a boy could wish for. With walls and trim painted in orange and beige, it was a fun little room. In the evenings and on the weekends I'd watch PBS on the small black & white TV situated across from the bed. On the bed, I'd sometimes build a fort and pretend I was defending it from an oncoming horde. A desk somehow fit in there, as well, and I'd put the small blue typewriter my parents gave me on it, and plunk-out short stories, or use it to interview my 3rd grade teacher for a writing project.

Of everything in my childhood bedroom on Draper St., I think perhaps my favorite part of it was the window. This portal to the outside world was big enough for me to sit on the sill and take-in what was beyond, yet feel safe enough within the confines of the room itself. The window looked-out onto our back yard, where there was a tall Sycamore tree (so tall, in fact, that I could see it from the playground of my grade school), a sandbox at the base of the tree, and a tree house my father built. Oh, and there was a shed in the very back of the yard.

Right off of the window was the back patio, painted a deep red. It was the location for many a family gathering, and I can still envision the parents, aunts & uncles, cousins and grandparents sitting back there wiling away the spring, summer and autumn days. On occasion, I would also use this as a more direct route to the sandbox. First, climb out the bedroom window, then onto the patio, then out into the yard and to the sand (or tree house). This was never my mother's favorite method of travel for me, as it meant she'd lose track of where I was.

When I wasn't crawling through the window on some adventure, I was looking through it, surveying the land. Directly behind our property was the home of Bob & Alice, an elderly couple who sometimes babysat me, or who mom & dad would play cards with. Alice would often greet me with cookies at our adjoining fences. I'd sometimes peer at their house, wondering what they were up to. It always fascinated me, what adult people did with their lives. Little did I know that adulting isn't as fun or exciting as I'd imagined it to be.

At night, I'd look out of the window and up at the stars. There was the first Christmas Eve after I found out the truth regarding Santa Claus, and I saw a short streak of light zig-zagging away into the sky. To this day, I've no clue what it was, though that night I still wanted it to be Santa and his reindeer sleigh. On certain occasions, I'd prop-up my telescope and aim it out the window, taking-in some close-up sightings of the moon, or the Big Dipper, or Orion's Belt.

There was also the steeple to the Champaign Church of Christ, located on the corner of Westlawn & John. Its tall steeple was bathed in a soft white light, and I could see it from the bedroom window. Viewing that steeple through the window provided a sense sort of comfort for me. I'd sit there and reflect upon its calm, silent presence above among the tree line. Mom told me that my late great-grandmother, Marie Newman Langley, had loved the fact that the steeple was in view from my window. That made me like it even more. She died when I was three, so any memory of her I could have was a welcome one.

I'm not sure who all has been in that bedroom on Draper St. in the intervening years since my parents sold the house in early 1986, nor what type of view they've enjoyed from its window. The Sycamore, tree house, sandbox and shed are all gone from the backyard. I recently drove by the Champaign Church of Christ at night, and the steeple wasn't lit. I imagine the view isn't as fun these days.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

Third Death

My father has had three funerals. The third (though perhaps not final) one, was last night.
In reality, Lewis died in 1997. Cancer. Aged 52. He had a real funeral. I was there. The next two funerals occurred only in my dreams, yet they seemed real at the time, and their impact during the waking hours was keenly felt.
You see, during the intervening nineteen years, Lewis has come back to life in my dreams, many times. It is more than simply having a dream about him. During these nighttime images, it is noted that Lewis shouldn't be there, that he died of cancer and is resting six feet under. How, then, could he be alive and, seemingly, healthy?

Thoughts on an Election

Before I get started on the ruminations of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I'll begin by saying I really have no clue as to who our next president will be. I've always fretted over the outcome of elections, regardless of the polls, and this year is no different. Especially this year. A good case can be made as to why Hillary Clinton will become our 45th president. All one has to do is look at the polls. Clinton has a comfortable lead in many states, enough to make one think that she will win handily on November 8th.
Of course, polls can be wrong. 538 gives Clinton's changes of winning in the low-mid 80 percent range. Several polls would seem to agree. Many Republicans are jumping ship from Trump. The race looks over. But of course, humanity isn't as easily predictable as polling would have us believe. Things happen. People can surprise us. And, for better or worse, I think that Donald Trump may very well become our next president.