Monday, January 26, 2009

Wide Awake...for a moment

Many years ago I was married to David Snellings (still a great friend) and we lived in a huge, drafty old house in Georgia that had once served as a school. We had some electrical problems and upon installing new wiring, discovered a staircase we didn't know existed. It had been walled up decades earlier. Apparently it was a service way for domestic help to access the upper floors without entering the main hall. Now it was an odd little nook, concealing another nook that was once either a closet or dumbwaiter. It lent itself perfectly to the concept of 'bigger inside than out.'
Spencer and I have a shared love of documentaries, and most recently we discovered Alan Berliner's Wide Awake. It's extremely well done on every level and among the many things to be gleaned from it, (we both have bouts of insomnia) was the fact that working relentlessly with no down time is not good for our brains---and not conducive to sleeping well.
So yesterday, we spent an afternoon listening to music, and playing guitar and flute. I hadn't picked up the flute in years, and playing was very much like discovering a hidden room, a bonus of space and resources I'd long forgotten. I was exercising a part of my brain left neglected for years. I was playing an instrument and listening, stimulating synapses and flipping old cobweb-covered switches.
The experience immediately brought to mind the excitement of discovering that hidden space in the old house.
This morning, Orion and I got to school extra early and once again I found myself doing something I haven't done in ages---playing basketball. The sensation of my fingers on the dry pebble skin of the ball on a chilly morning---how many files of that are in my brain---two thousand? twenty-thousand? Back to Alan Berliner and his rooms with thousands of reference photographs and sounds, filed neatly away---it's all in there. The muscle memory immediately awakened with hardly a yawn, so that the ball felt natural and easy under my hands, the arc of the shot was calculated subconsciously in my brain, the satisfaction of the swish of the net both familiar and refreshing. The surprised delight on Orion's face was like the sun.
I feel awake, in rare fashion, for today.

I'll take it.


ravyn said...

when i was a child, i had dreams that took place in a house that had a back staircase, not exactly secret, but tucked away. i love stuff like that, i'd love to have a house full of nooks and crannies and a secret staircase.....

Stardustgirl said...

I used to envy characters in books who had adventures involving hidden rooms, stairways, etc. There was nothing like that here, in a brand-new house.

In remodeling it, I've added some "easter eggs" inside walls and other spots. Someone in 100 years might get a surprise.

lisa said...

ravyn---it was a very interesting place, very southern gothic with ferns on the porches and birds in the rafters. but in winter, with 14 ft ceilings, it got very very chilly. Still, Dark Caravan was born there, and lots of memories are surrounded by those walls.

maureen: I love that idea. I often hide easter eggs in my larger works too, in the form of numerical codes.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of those who like the idea of a hidden passage or room--I've always thought such a thing would be extraordinarily cool. My dream is to win a big enough lottery to have a house built...and the library on the main floor would be octagonal, with its entry/exit door hidden behind the shelves and another secret door to my bedroom...

And just to show you how serious I am, here's a site I've had bookmarked for several years:

Anonymous said... looks like a link, but it isn't...let me try again:

Ed said...

Days like this one are to be cherished. And remembered when the daily banality is wrapping us more strongly.

Syd - I simply loved this. Just added to my "Hopes and Dreams" list, right next to "My own house".