I am not a city person, in case anyone hasn't gathered that yet. The best moment of my stay in New York City was watching a rabbit scamper around a parking lot full of cars. Or a seagull flying between two high rise buildings. Watching from my hotel window, on the thirty-fifth floor, I felt like I was in one of those videos where the camera keeps panning out and out from my face until the shot is from outer space.
Four hundred feet up, the people and cars on the street below me seemed to be pairs of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
My thirty-fifth storey window looked across at a building on the top of which was a pent house with a garden of trees, lounge chairs, and a kitchen on the second floor. Only once did anyone appear through those windows, probably because Jonas, the snow storm of a century, hit and people who can afford to live in pent houses can also pay to jet out of the disaster area NYC turned into in the ensuing days.
But I kept going back to the window, because this house-upon-a-house fascinated me, and it got me thinking about how as writers we are in the business of building houses, assembling projections of our selves and our lives.
In Jungian dream-analysis, the house is a profound symbol of the entire psyche. During one of the crazier phases of my life, I had a dream of living in a house under the famous network of highways known as Spaghetti Junction near Birmingham, England.
The house on the high-rise roof is up there pretending to be a house in any suburb, but it might as well be in outer space.
Perhaps that's why I was drawn to it: it was all about pretending and about projecting an idea of life and self. What I was looking at across the gulf of Manhattan sky was nothing more than a piece of fiction.