I painted a cloudy sky on two of the walls of my room, before I moved in. First I thought it was a really great idea, and then I thought it was dumb, and now I just wish I had a camera so I could document this properly, but instead you will just have to believe me when I tell you that the sky in that room is like the real sky, in that it changes day to day and hour to hour, and it means different things at different times.
At four in the afternoon on a hot Fourth of July, the clouds are thin and transparent, almost gelatinous. They suspend in the corners of your vision as you lay your head down on your soft cool pillow and let your bare feet drip off the edge of the bed in the window breeze, while the birds sing SUMMER! outside and a couple of neighbors let off a couple of preemptive bottle rockets.
At 6:43 a.m the following Tuesday., fifteen minutes before your alarm should go off but may or may not since lately your clock…the one you bought in 1993 at the Luria’s on Miracle Mile with your mom, the summer before you went across the country to college…has been acting up; the wall sky is impossibly bright with the morning sun bursting in so so early. You turn your face away and try to close your eyes again since you have fifteen more minutes but the blue paint fizzles in under your eyelids and you throw back the covers and groan and just go ahead and get up already.
When you get home from work and the gym and your bus ride, six, six-thirty depending on traffic, and have made dinner and eaten it at the kitchen table with a book in front of you because you almost always eat dinner before your housemates, the cloud room is quiet and grayish. You turn on the lights and glance around at all the rest of your stuff that needs to be put away, think about how you’re going to decorate the other walls of the room, think about where you’ll be this time next year, think about if you need to do laundry tonight or if it can wait until tomorrow. Outside the sun just goes down in the ordinary way, but inside the room pulses through every shade of gray until it’s finally dark, while you think about all the rooms you’ve lived in, and a couple you wanted to live in but couldn’t, as well as one or two that you stopped living in as soon as was convenient.
At twelve-thirty, when you should really be asleep but are awake because you couldn’t stop after just one episode of The Sopranos, the thin window moonlight will pick up the edges of the clouds above your bed. You lay awake and listen to your song one more time and feel the largeness of the bed, the contours of your celibacy. You breathe in and out, wait for sleep, watch the facsimile shadows coalesce around you.