Square, sea green tiles border my window ledge, and just beyond them a sea of grey. Cement walls and chipping wooden shutters from the building across the way lead straight up to ashy clouds moving across a chilly white sky. No matter how far I lean out the window, I can't see the ocean, though I can hear it, a dull rushing sound, as if this house were a conch shell pressed up against my ear. Today the waves must be strong, and the sound of the surf upon the sand is rhythmic, lulling me into a trance in the half-light of a cold winter Sunday.
Sitting here on the couch, looking out over my right shoulder I see a palm tree, apparently growing out of the roof of the adjacent building. It always makes me smile, a reminder that the city is not all that it seems. Strange things can happen in corners and rooftops, tiny visual treasures to store up for a rainy day.
Of all the homes I've lived in, this one has the least interesting view. In Jacarezinho, once your eyes adjusted to looking through the tangle of telephone and electrical wires, a host of sights passed by daily. Shoppers with their bags of fruit and dealers with their guns swung almost comically over their shoulders, children chasing down cats or loose kites, cars trying to weave through the crush of pedestrians blocking the narrow alleys. Manguinhos was similar, but boasted vibrant murals, repainted for the World Cup, Ronaldinho's unforgettable overbite expanded to become the grill of a blue, yellow and green train bearing down on the unsuspecting Argentinians. A glowing trophy with the hopeful "Hexacampeões" underneath, though the 6th World Cup trophy was an unrealized dream that year. In the pink house with its tiny balcony, I watched children leave school, shouting at them like a sour crone as they hopped up to walk the balance beam upon the crumbling wall outside my house. I squirmed as cars squealed around the tight corner, narrowly avoiding dangerous accidents. I waved at the girls doing gymnastics on the roof of the green house across the street. Now, I keep the blinds closed many days, as there's nothing to see on the other side, unless I want a reputation as a peeping tom.
Even so, this is a good place to live, and a good view. Without the constant stream of curiosities, I am able to devote myself to creating other views, other viewpoints, other scenes. Was it Annie Dillard who once wrote that the best view for a writer is a blank concrete wall? I believe there's something to that idea. Overstimulation can be worse than none at all, and creativity is usually born from nothing more interesting than boredom. We're going to watch those big waves now, but later, I'll come home, close the blinds, and let my inner eyes do the viewing. I'm quite curious to see where they'll take me.