Catherine Ann Taylor is a sophomore at Tulane majoring in English and Theatre with a focus in directing. She read fiction at our February 4th event. Below is an excerpt from her piece,“With Oaks out Front, and Window Seats.”
Drawings by Julia Taylor
From “With Oaks out Front, and Window Seats” :
I stood with Rosalie in her bare bedroom the day before she moved away, surrounded by magazine clippings and mountains of wrinkled, line-dried clothes that she shared with her older sisters. The faded alphabet and animal stencils on the walls from a previous young owner (Rosalie’s family had been too busy to concern themselves with decorative details during their two-year stay) had just been painted a fresh coat of pale blue, a shade renters couldn’t argue with. The nubby oatmeal colored carpet was to be torn out and replaced the next day. The new wood floors downstairs had echoed with my deliberate footsteps earlier, the rooms begging for the family’s comfy sofas and shelves of her Rabbi father’s gold-embossed Hebrew books to absorb the hollowness.
I had loved the merry disarray of her family’s home and the busy chaos of our friendship as we burned through our last few months together in the same town. It makes strange, sad sense that a home is at its best right before its owners leave. New refrigerator, fresh screens in the windows, cobwebs in corners whisked away, doorknobs replaced. The little, nagging tasks on neglected to-do lists finally get done, only for the benefit of strangers.
Rosalie sat cross-legged on the floor now with a towel around her dark gold hair, applying makeup. There was a pile of dirty earth-toned towels cast over the closet door. “Rosie, how many towels is this? Seven, eight?” I chided, hauling them down one by one and dropping them into a pile. “You know towels get mildew-y if you leave them in a big wet pile!” She rolled her eyes and swiped mascara onto her lashes. Half her mind floated elsewhere, as it often did. I waited a few moments for my words to process, for her to surface from her reverie. As she spun from the mirror to face me, her expression told me it was ridiculous to go on about things like dirty towels, and especially now. I knew this. The dynamic of our conversation, though, and the music playing and our cups of tea were the only things that tethered me to normalcy.
She examined a crumbly eye shadow palette, blew away the extra glitter dust, peeled back my fingers and thrust it into my hand. “Mary, I want you to have this. It doesn’t look quite right with my complexion.” She found an old shopping bag among the tumult, the remainder of her belongings, and began stuffing unwanted things inside to give to me. As she moved about the room, I thought of how much time two people must spend, the delicate process they must go through, for the hyper-awareness of space and touch between them to melt away. There is an unmatched sense of calm in feeling free to grasp someone’s hand in yours, or in being so comfortable that you don’t even register the head resting on your shoulder. There is a lush satisfaction in familiarity.