Glass House

When I was young, I remember being enraptured by the idea of living in a glass house. I imagined erecting my glass home deep in the woods, able to view the going-ons of nature intimately while being safe from the elements. It need only be a single room, blending in with the environment rather than breaking it in. The concept is fundamentally childish in its construction. No one can live in a glass house.

As a young adult, I find I still long for this glass house. A glass house actualizes my yearning for safety and adventure; a haven amid unbridled wilderness still brings out the excitement now that it did then. I could sit cross-legged at twilight and read and write and watch the nocturnal animals in the dying light without fear of finding shelter. The safety of the glass instilling in me a god-like sense of mastery of my environment. The prey meeting the predator in a sacred moratorium. Nothing I could imagine could top this moment, it would be ethereal.

But what of it? Surely reality has thrown the first stone at this pipedream of mine. Creature comforts and rich spiritual experiences rarely coincide. As it goes, I have found a compromise. My dear friend and mentor lives in a peculiar little mid-century modern with a network of decking and platforms. The top platform houses a square room of glass sliding doors and parquet flooring. The room is lined with bookshelves and cluttered with the tools of his life’s hobbies. The drum set suggesting his distaste of age-appropriate pastimes, the sun-bleached spines of books detailing the history of French film, the telescope piled amongst tattered star charts.

He let me stay here when he would leave on his trips. I think knowing that I shared in his appreciation for the space bonded us. So I would sit, alternating between writing and staring through the glass. On clear days I could see the Sacramento skyline, and if I wrote into the evening, I could see the flickering lights of the valley.

Eventually I would have to leave my laptop on the floor and scurry down to the main house to use the bathroom or cook something or feed the dogs. I could feel it beckoning me back and a relief always settled over me when I returned, re-reading the last few sentences I had typed out before slipping back into a peaceful rhythm. The quiet whir of the laptop fan, the headlights of a passing car, the sounds of my fingers pecking my stream of consciousness onto the plastic keys. It was my glass house. It was never a permanent place of residence, but always a restful space of deliverance. It was just as my mentor had designated it; it was a place of creative liberation in nature.

I would never see a passing bear or trace the raindrops rolling down the sides of my house with my finger. Instead, I could escape, if only for hours at a time, to this glass room. To sit in the dark and listen to an owl coo in the night while my fingers played notes on the laptop keys, immortalizing childhood dreams that stirred in me.

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