Monday, May 19, 2014

new parking spot

When I moved to Terwilliger Plaza, I brought with me my aged New Beetle Gumdrop (vanity plate: GMDROP). I was assigned a parking spot beneath my windows in a space along the alleyway to the loading door. This spot had several advantages. It was very close to my apartment -- probably two minutes walk total, including waiting for the freight elevator -- and I could look down and see my bright yellow car from my windows, which I did kind of by habit as I prepared for bed each night.

Then, about a week ago, I got an "inside" parking place. It also has several advantages.

It's inside, which doesn't matter all that much now that it's spring and summer, but it will matter a lot when it's unpleasant outdoors.

It's at the far end of the building, which may seem like a disadvantage, but anything that gets me walking instead of sitting has to be counted on the positive side. (Look up "sedentary" in any dictionary, and you will find my picture there.)

It's on flat floor. The outdoor space was on a slight incline side-to-side, which made opening the driver's side door more of a challenge than it needed to be, and which brought rain in onto the driver's seat if I forgot to roll the driver's side window up.

Getting to the new parking space is somewhat labyrinthine. One elevator to the first floor, then a hike along past the mailboxes, library, and restaurant to another elevator, which takes me down to the ground-level parking. But that has a charm of its own. When I think about it, it reminds me of some of Mervyn Peake's descriptions of Gormenghast Castle, which is really unfair, since there is nothing whatsoever to tie Terwilliger Plaza to Peake's accretive, gloomy monstrosity of a building. But one takes one's literary references where one finds them.

The new space is almost right next to the garage door, which means it took me a couple tries to figure out how to head in westward and do a hairpin turn so I could enter my space facing eastward. Turns out what I wanted was not a hairpin turn, but a kind of preliminary swoop northward so that I would have the space to reverse directions without having to back and fill. I am pleased to see that concrete columns here are buffered with plastic foam so I won't be able to scrape any more paint off the sides of my car while parking. If I win the lottery, I may consider having Gumdrop repainted.

Now, as I go to bed, by habit I look for my car, and she's not there. It makes me much sadder than it should. I guess I'm still defining myself as a Terwilliger Plaza resident, and seeing Gumdrop under the alley streetlight was an affirmation that I miss.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

getting to know my neighbors

Tonight was the floor dinner, a monthly event that gathers most of the residents on the sixth floor in the private dining room to socialize and get served a dinner arranged by one of the residents with the Plaza chef, Klaus. (My daughter works as a cook, and says that all chefs are crazy. Klaus apparently fits the stereotype. But he certainly cooks a superb apple pie.)

Anyway, after dinner, I was walking back with my next-door-neighbor-to-the-north Betsy, who invited me into her apartment to see the layout. She is a photographer and water color artist. I hadn't spoken with her husband Ray before, but I learned this evening that he too is an artist -- pencil drawings and water colors. Their work is admirable -- they're not hobbyists, they're Actual Artists. I wish I could include some photos of their work so you could enjoy it too. Their apartment is both elegant and welcoming.

Then Betsy came over to meet Ochi, my cat. She got along well with him, even eliciting a purr or two. I apologized profusely as we walked in, because my apartment is an inelegant, unwelcoming mess. "Nonsense," Betsy said, "it's where you live."

I think I'm going to like having Betsy for a neighbor.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dr. Proust

I don't actually know her last name. But we were riding up to the roof in the elevator together, and she came with me to admire my tomato plant, which, unlike some of its compatriots, seems to be flourishing. We got to talking, and she told me about going with her husband (one of three) because he wanted to support the Spanish Republic before Franco grabbed it by the throat. They ended up in Paris, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on "Involuntary Memory in Proust". Apparently it wasn't just the madeleines. She says the whole book is about involuntary memory (hence, perhaps, the title: "Remembrance of Things Past"). We had a wonderful conversation about the workings of involuntary memory, and I am feeling a probably transitory desire to read Proust. We agreed that Terwilliger Plaza is a great place, full of lively, interesting people with energy and generosity of spirit.

Wow. Just wow.