Robin

I’m not sure that I’m ever going to do anything with this, but I’ve had this character floating around my mind for over a year now, so I finally decided to write a little introduction to her life.

At the age of twenty-four, the thing Robin loved most in the world was her house.

It was tiny, painted blue with white framework on the doors and windows. There were flowers in the three windows that faced the street, and a garden leading from the front door right down to the small white gate. There was even a lone tree in the yard, one that had grown enough to give a little shade during the long, hot summer days.

The house was on a small residential street in Studio City in Los Angeles, which was another thing that Robin loved about it. She loved being so near a happening area and yet snug in her own little space, the picture of suburbia. She had a Mr. Horns to her left in a small yellow house, with a rather large yellow Labrador named Puck, while the house to her right was empty, a big “FOR RENT” sign the only inhabitant of the fading lawn.

Robin had acquired this house in a strange set of circumstances. It had, belonged to her great-aunt Lucinda, an eccentric woman who had lived in a nursing home for the last twenty years of her life. The family was under the impression that she’d sold it years ago, but, as she wrote in her will, she’d left it empty, freshly painted and clean, ready for her great-niece, who had only just been born, to grow up and receive it. When Robin turned twenty, Lucinda passed away and the house was discovered in the will.

Robin couldn’t believe her luck. As a university student, she longed to leave the dorms behind her and live in a space all her own. She had no desire to return to the poisonous environment that was her parents’ house. She’d suffered enough hardship over the years, and having finally escaped by earning a full scholarship, she had no intention of ever going back.

Halfway through her Junior year, she moved out of the school dorms and into her new home. It had needed much airing out after twenty years of standing empty, and furniture, too. She’d scoured both the flea markets and the Internet for cheap, secondhand stuff, and she  sanded, repainted and lacquered some of the wooden pieces she’d found. In fact, she’d spent her entire winter break on making her new home as perfect as could be. This was another reason why she loved it so.

Another reason was that she was hardly ever in it. The commute to school on two buses, the time she spent in classes and in the library studying, as well as her job at one of the administrative offices kept her so busy that she would normally arrive back at her house at ten and leave the next morning at around seven. Out of those nine hours, some six were spent sleeping, and one was spent in a morning haze of coffee, toast, shower and make-up.

The two hours she had to herself every night before she fell exhausted into bed were her treasures. She didn’t allow herself to study, review material or read anything that had something to do with her major – which was history – or her minor – which was philosophy. She spent the time reading comics online, watching films or taking a long, hot bath.

It was a perfect life, really, and she often felt ridiculously lucky.

But everything changed when her brother got out of prison a week before graduation.

Across Five States: Into Virginia

It seemed that the moment we crossed into Virginia, we hit real life. For real. We were stuck in a monstrous traffic jam of people leaving Washington D.C. for the day. So many people commute there, not to mention the fact that tourist season had begun, and so we felt that we were slammed back into reality, along with all the inconveniences it brings. As we sat on the sixty-six highway, we inched forward and began to cruise the local radio stations. We found some good easy listening, and settled in to wait.

The highway was bordered by high walls, and the directions were separated by hedges. We rounded a bend, and suddenly there it was. The Washington Monument. We could see its peak all the way from the highway, jutting into the sky like a beacon, heralding that we’d reached our destination. It was an exciting moment for all of us.

Soon enough we were taking the badly marked exit – Virginia seems to have a dark sense of humor and enjoys luring newcomers into a false sense of security by marking the exit well before it comes and then putting a tiny sign at the actual exit so you undoubtedly miss it – and driving into Arlington County, which was to be my brother’s new home. After some more muddling around with befuddling directions, we reached his apartment and discovered yet another thing about Virginia – the lack of parking, and the importance of tow trucks, which will tow any car that’s not marked by the right stickers placed in the right ways in the right corners of the right window.

This forced our hand. My brother and I unloaded the U-Haul at superhero speed, while my mother guarded it, just to make sure no policeman or tow truck would catch us unawares. Loading the truck had taken the better part of five hours. Unloading it took an hour, and we were drenched with sweat by the time we were done. By this time, night had fallen and we were all ravenous. We piled back in the U-Haul and found a dingy place to eat at, and afterwards found the only U-Haul drop-off spot in the area. It was a relief, seeing that truck for the last time, but we all felt a bit of a pang. It had safely conveyed us across five whole states, and as ungainly as it was, we had become proud of it – especially as we had the coolest U-Haul in the lost because ours had a picture of snakes on it instead of a U-Haul advertisement.

We took a taxi back to my brother’s apartment and, just like that, our move was done. We still had unpacking to do, we still had furniture to buy, we still had a whole county to get to know, but we were done. We’d moved my brother from Chicago to Virginia in two days. We accomplished what we’d set out to do. It was marvelous.

Moving Out

A week and a half ago [and it’s incredible to realize that yes, it was only a week and a half ago] my brother, my mother and I sat in my brother’s apartment in Chicago and sighed. It was a situation which merited sighing. We were surrounded by boxes, heavy boxes marked “BOOKS AND CLOTHING” or “KITCHEN STUFF – LOUD, UNBREAKABLE” or “BREAKABLE.” Besides the visible boxes there were also bookcases, mattresses and chairs to be moved plus a  dirty old futon couch that was destined for the big garbage bins outside.

Slowly, piece by piece, box by box, we lugged everything down the wide wooden outside stairway. The mattresses and big furniture were a challenge – we had to carry them together and balance the big things along the turns in the stairway. We were tempted to simply throw down some items, but resisted – a near thing, once we realized how awkward the bed frame and the futon would be.

It took us about five hours, but at around three in the afternoon all the furniture and boxes were secured in the U-Haul we’d rented. Bad tempered, bruised and hungry, we began our road trip across five states to move my brother from Illinois to Virginia.

The Perfect Room

To begin with, it would be large and airy, with tall windows at regular intervals along the wall, to let the daylight in. Curtains, easy to pull and adjust, would hang at these windows, so there would never need to be a glare of the blinding sun at any hour of the day, but only soft light filtering through the cloth.

Comfortable seating would be the next essential in this room. Comfortable couches and saggy arm-chairs would need to fill the space of the room, just beckoning and waiting to be sat on, sprawled upon or even fallen asleep on. The seating must be the type to make even the heartiest and most energetic feel as if they’d like to sink into the pillows and take a little nap.

Next, the lighting. While there must be some sort of strong central light, it shouldn’t be needed most of the time because of the many small lamps, hung with crimson or orange shades so as to cast a comfy, romantic glow. There must be a big, heavy, wooden desk with a good and upright desk chair to go with it.

Lastly, and most importantly – books. The walls are shelves, leaving not one empty space for a picture or hanging. The books are both the adornment and the purpose of the room. Their smell fills every nook and cranny and their soft murmurings are ever present, demanding quietly that you pluck them out of the shelves and lose yourself in them.

This would be my perfect room, and if I ever get enough money to own a house, I’m definitely going to try to create it.