We Are All Astronauts

Normally in a 10 story building with three cozy apartments to a floor, one would not decorate one's foyer. If one did, it would most likely be at the consent of one's neighbors, and there would be a theme. Some such themes in my building are: "People who take drugs go to hell"; a baby carriage parking lot; tired floor mats; nothing at all.

We used to have nothing on my floor. I was under the impression that if one decorated one's door with a fancy designer matt from Soho, burglars would come, hoping they'd find a little more than just Ikea in there. This was until my crazy neighbor, Deborah (pronounced Deb-O-rah), a seventy year old daughter of a psychiatrist, moved in. She tucked fake purple roses into the cooks of her peephole/doorbell box on the door; sprinkled the fake roses on the floor around our doors; scrubbed the floors herself with eucalyptus and lavender; and moved furniture in and around the foyer on at least a weekly basis.

Coming home is always an exciting mystery to see what has changed in the foyer for that day. Always something. During the day, she pounds ancient nails into unaligned places onto the wall. I always assume she's sticking nails into random holes that already exist in the wall, but there she goes pounding again with the hammer. At 7am. And sometimes the nails are chunks of metal, like a miniature train spike, but the size of a nail.

She hangs antique Victorian, gaudily framed pictures. Sometimes she balances pinecones on top of the deep frame. Sometimes she replaces the lavender roses with peacock feathers. And sometimes she hangs seashells on the wall. Conk shells to be exact. In the past few months, there's been a shellacked piece of rectangular wood. It hangs from its corner, meaning it hangs crookedly. David rights it, but it's always back on it's angle by the end of the day, one with it's odd little family of oddly positioned pictures of blurry people and scenes we cannot decipher.

Yesterday Deborah kept me in the hallway, talking. She's spent the past two months not talking to me, due to lots of possible psychological reasons (the FBI that is guarding her told her to not talk to anyone this month; she's mad at me for suggesting she not scream at her tiny, orange, terrier mutt when training him, even though she swears he's trained by the Secret Service; I haven't ordered the vitamins she's been pushing for the past year). She'd hung a very pretty, very horizontal water color mountain landscape. It's colors are murky blues and greens, but blend together in a drowsy sort of way, but it distinctly is a horizontal composition. She'd hung it vertically. I commented on it, thinking it an interesting way to present such a picture.

Deborah stepped back into the middle of the foyer, then re-positioned her bags on an old Ikea chest David (my boyfriend) and I keep junk-that-can-be-stolen in, and stated: "Oh, I hope you don't mind (she had given it to us for our hallway, but David found something he liked better, plus, I ridded the house of all the little gifts she had given us after the latest bout of her not speaking to me and greeting me with a crazy eye, so David had just given it back)," she said as she looked around. "I mean, it's yours, so you can do what you like with it, but we're all astronauts you know, so we might as well get used to it."

Captivated, I put off taking a glorious bath (also had to clean the tub, which I hadn't done yet) to hear more.

"I mean, we have lots of people in space now. So we might as well get used to zero gravity. I've been working to train my eye as if I'm in space."

Finally, a theme to our little foyer. It all made sense now. The randomly hung pictures, the conk shells nailed to the wall, the coy pinecones, were all strategic. Stepping off of the elevator tonight, sure enough, I was in the eyes of another person, and saw floating objects, as if I were floating through space, living that way.

A once chaotic room disclosed its secret purpose. I thought it very interesting. The mind. Not to mention, the belief of a seventy year old woman that she will live to experience moving to space. I am also assured that burglars must turn around very quickly when they step into our foyer to decide which door to break into, as they either get very dizzy (being inexperienced with visually balancing floating objects), or are just plum spooked, as most delivery men are when they deliver to us.

> Click here to read about my nightmare about Deborah