I've been living out of boxes the past few months. I moved into my new house at the end of May and a combination of laziness and a lack of shelving/furniture has kept my room in a state of boxed ridiculousness and unboxed clutter. This weekend, I picked up a large desk, large enough to give me the means to straighten some things up. The clothes are now put away, the CDs basically in place. My room has now struck a zen-like balance between my bed and my big new desk. In between them is a sad, spindly little black halogen lamp.
I used to have two tall lamps that I could set in opposite corners for lighting. Somehow, they got lost in the move. Now, all that remains between darkness and the horror of overhead light is this tiny lamp.
It appeared eleven years ago, when I lived in a small room on Aycock Street in Greensboro. The room was lousy with almost-empty beer bottles and cigarette smoke that choked up the ceiling fan and lingered in the formerly bright blue carpet. I would sit in this room, on the floor, and listen to music for hours or write poetry on my little Brother word processor or play my dice game. Guests would often sit on the bed and drink and smoke while I played record after record, often on the original LP format. John Ball was often in attendance.
On a summer night, John showed up on my front porch, unannounced, as would be expected as I didn't generally require notice to hang out in those days. None of us did. That's a little sad to think of - no matter. John showed up with a wacky grin. In one hand he had a fifth of Maker's Mark, the other held a little black lamp. He hated my overhead light. And so he got me a lamp. As a gift. And we drank and smoked and talked and listened to music and walked the streets until late in the Carolina July night. Maybe it was June. Possibly early August.
It's eleven years later. Better lamps have come and gone. Yet, on my floor today, lighting my books and my dice games and anal-retentive tape-making process, is that little black stick of a lamp, still glowing, same bulb, after all this time. It's a little dingy now. It spent years collecting dust, cobwebs and cat hair. A little sad, according to Karla who saw it this weekend for the first time. A little beat-out is how Bethany used to describe it. I've scrubbed it down with Fantastick. Its blackness will not shine for me, not anymore. But its immortal, immutable tiny inch-and-a-half halogen bulb...well, that keeps on going forever.
And if you should visit, I would use this light because the overhead is too bright. And you might remark on my pitiful little lamp, barely standing on its one spindly spider leg, leaning impossibly towards the center of the room. But I know from experience, that in a few minutes, once we get talking, that light will enter your heart and soothe your nerves and a glow will come over your dome like a halo. And you will be blessed.