In Practice, Presentation on January 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

There are three bottles of hard liquor on the top shelf.

That’s the drinks cabinet. It’s not a hard drink household and although the wine flows freely here we never hang on to bottles for long enough to build up an impressive rack. Yes, I really did say impressive rack.

How’s that for search engine optimization?

Two of the bottles are German, and so properly referred to as schnapps. They are delicious herbal concoctions that go down smoothly and sweetly and deliver killer hangovers if taken in sufficient doses.

The other is a bottle of my beloved Luis Felipe. A half bottle actually – I’m not made of money. If you’ve ever tried Luis Felipe then you of course love it too. It’s a brandy from Huelva in Spain that is matured in oak casks for a very long time. I’m not getting into it here – just put it on your “things to drink before I die” list.

The shelving unit is of the type I have favoured for years now – cheap, self assembled and made from untreated wood. Seventeen euros from the nearest “Sort Your House Out!” superstore. Other people buy these things for their garden shed or workshop but I like to put them in my living space and look lovingly at them.

I have filled this one with my books and K has added some faux livestock; cats, pigs, rabbits and so on. There is a photo of her and me next to the schnapps and in it we both look deliriously happy. People who know me have commented on how relaxed and natural I look in the photo compared with my usual tormented rictus of a smile. They don’t know how drunk I was.

I was so drunk when that photo was taken I’m surprised I knew which direction to smile in. K appears to be leaning into me but in fact was holding me up straight. And I was sitting in a chair at the time.

We have put two identical throws over the two sofas and pushed them together to make an L-shape. It has made the place look more homely and less like a spartan, short term rental. The throws have a vaguely oriental look to them and on the wall above we have hung our large photo of Petra and our wall hanging from Jerusalem. We like to think the whole thing has a Middle Eastern look, what with the lamp and cushions from Egypt and the mosaic picture frames that K made herself, but it may be merely ramshackle.

There is a balcony, more or less ornamental given its size, that looks out onto a beautiful little lane. Whitewashed, cobbled – you get the picture. I love that balcony. For real outdoor space we go up on the roof. There are two other apartments in the building but for now we have it to ourselves. A luxury. It is warm enough most days, even now in mid January, to sit up there – as long as one is in the sun and out of the wind.

We are right in the centre of the old part of town so the view from up there, in all directions, is predictably gorgeous. The old houses, crumbling facades, ceramic shop fronts, the castle, the old church, the port, the ocean. The noisy birds and the weather fronts that always seem to hover over the Straits. The obligatory palm trees, the pretty plazas and the coast of Africa. It’s a nice view, is what I’m saying.

To find evidence in our home that we are establishing – as opposed to established – you need only visit the spare bedroom. It’s windowless, dim and cramped. There’s a bicycle on one of the narrow twin beds and God only knows what underneath both of them. I was happy keeping the door closed but K is determined to spruce it up. She has erected one of those canvas wardrobes in one corner and inserted a rug. I’m not convinced but she isn’t finished yet – there will be duvets and bed sets and no doubt some more livestock.

We have three pets. Two radiators and a dehumidifier. They are all on wheels and I pull them along by their cables to wherever I want them next – it feels like taking them for a walk. I talk to them, especially to Harry, the dehumidifier, who is doing great work. Well done, Harry.

Back up to the roof. I like to go up there whenever I feel overwhelmed. That’s been happening to us now that the year has turned and that huge punctuation mark has been stamped on our little story. I find the timeless panoramas upstairs centering, a much needed antidote to the unbroken, undemarcated view we have of our near future. The task is to punctuate it, define it. Goals, more to-do lists.

Although we eagerly anticipate the coming summer and its heat, it may grate a little to have the other two apartments occupied by holiday makers. Particularly if they happen to be a troop of teenage German boys and girls who like to have sex on the roof. But that’s another story. Whoever they are they will be in holiday mode and we will have to exercise a zen-like patience or get into holiday mode with them. Coping strategies and so on.

There are three bottles of hard liquor on the top shelf…

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  1. With that roof scene and weather, I’ve decided you don’t need your Luis Filipe. Chuck it our way instead please pal?

  2. Sounds like a cozy little nest with access to a stairway to heaven. Envy your opportunity to still warm yourself outdoors. The winter chills are well upon us here in upstate NY.

  3. I like your pets. I like the fact that you talk to them. I talk to statues and fish, you talk to a radiator. Seems to me that the two of us are quite normal people.

  4. So I’ve put Luis Felipe on my “things to drink before I die” list. Are you going to show us the photo of you and K looking deliriously happy? Please?

  5. Hard liquor can make me talk to many things – radiators, dehumidifiers, the floor.

  6. Sounds like a great little place that is becoming home. And I agree with Cathy. I also would love to see the picture! 😉

  7. Another excellent post…

    Kent and I are reading “Freedom,” by Jonathan Franzen (yes, at the same time. Aren’t we adorable?!). Your writing feels very Franzian. How’s that for a an ego boost. And crazy shit like talking to appliances sounds kinda Franzian as well.

    Now, would you mind whipping up the next great american novel? Thank you.

    • And yet another much appreciated and very kind comment! I haven’t yet read Franzen despite The Corrections seeming to be required reading these days. However I understand the chap is doing rather well for himself at this writing business so I’m grateful for the comparison. Don’t you two fight over whose turn it is to read the book? If you don’t, that is indeed adorable….

  8. Thanks for the tour of your home! Do up the spare bedroom and you’ll seriously have a full house!

  9. As eternal nomads, I could really relate to this piece. I love how you started and finished with the liquor bottles on the shelf. I, too, have always had the dilemma of keeping a fully stocked bar. There is always too much drinking to be done.

  10. I’ve always wanted a stocked bar but I can never keep bottles either, I’m actually impressed you have 3.

    • It’s the most I’ve ever had, Ayngelina, apart from that time that I had eight. But they were all miniatures and we got through them one evening…

  11. Yes, I also want to see the photos of you and K deliriously happy (and drunk). And while you’re at it, I want to see photos of these lovely pets you have!!

    • I suppose Harry and the radiators might make it onto the photoblog at some point. Harry and the Radiators – sounds like a rock’n’roll band doesn’t it?

  12. So, um, you make your new home sound wonderful, full to the brim with quality booze and then mention there’s a spare room? What an outrageous tease!
    I’ll be there directly.

  13. Sounds lovely…are you accepting visitors?

    Good luck with your neighbours. We never have much luck in that department. Your liquor stash should help 😉

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