When I was starting out in married life, our tiny first apartment had a room that opened off the external hallway and served as kitchen/dining room/pantry/broom closet. It connected by a curtained opening to an inside space that was the living room/bedroom/closet/TV room.
When I say “bedroom,” I do not mean that any sleeping took place, because that side of the concrete block building faced a highway that ran from one end of the country to the other end, halted short of the border only by jungle and cannibals. (This, as you perhaps have guessed by now, was not in the United States. For that reason, the shower and bathroom were outside in the hall.)
All day and night our rest was thwarted by tractor-trailers, farm trucks, buses both long-distance and local, cars and anything else that rolled on wheels. Zoom! Roar! Rumble! Years later, when I went to see Jurassic Park, I heard the dinosaurs and bolted upright, screaming.
I’ve been thinking about the rooms in my life. As a boy, I slept upstairs in the old farmhouse I told you about a couple of weeks ago. On either side of that bedroom, running the length of the house, were cubbyholes that could be accessed only by squatting down and duck-walking. In there, my mother kept some of the canned fruit and vegetables she had put up, but only near the open doors.
To my knowledge, no one ever ventured past those openings where the hall light broke the darkness. For all I know today, Confederate gold could have been stowed in those long, low spaces, only to melt into the ground when that old house burned years later.
There was one other room upstairs. Its front wall leaned in to allow for the slanting roof and dormers outside. That other room had always been called, in all the time we lived there, “the other room.”
With a name like that, it deserved a starring role in a Gothic novel, but its main claim to fame was as another repository for Mama’s canned goods, in addition to the…