Thursday, October 15, 2009

Window Pain

I'm a list-maker.

  • Make doctor's appointment
  • Read some Chinese
  • Stare at wall

I like to see the things I want or need to do. The therapy of writing.

As a renter, there's many things I could contribute to the landlord's To-Do List. But I'm a tolerant tenant and put up with a lot. An unspoken agreement for cheap rent. Well, actually, it's because my husband fixes most things. (I married well.)

Except for the windows. They are old and either broken or in varying stages of breaking. In fact, more than a few panes are held together by packing tape -- which actually works surprisingly well.

After my son was born my worst fear was his going through one of the windows and landing three stories down. As if by genetic adaptation, though, he showed no interest in climbing or the windows.

But once during a severe windstorm I was standing in the kitchen when I heard glass break and saw the pieces fall to the ground.

“Oh, that sucks,” I remember thinking. “Someone’s plant just got blown through a window.”

A few minutes later, as I walked past my son playing on the living room carpet, I felt a cold breeze coming down the stairs. But all the windows are closed, I thought.

Feeling suddenly nauseous, I ran upstairs into his bedroom to find a sharp jagged broken piece of glass where the pane used to be, the curtain whipping violently into third-story air.

New To-Do List:

  • Break out remaining jagged glass
  • Barricade door

I pulled it together enough to hug my son and call my husband. Then hug my son again. I went back to that special flipped out place long enough to leave my landlord a flaming message.

"The glass in my son's bedroom window was just sucked out of the rotten casing by the wind!"

Or something like that.

A solid two years after this incident, the landlord pushed replacing some of our worst-case windows to the top of his to-do list. This includes replacing his temporary repair job in my son's room that left a gaping hole in the window sill.

When the window repairman came by to measure the windows I told him the story of how my son's window ended up in the alley below. He nonchalantly said, “Don’t worry. I understand. When I was his age, I fell 6 stories out of a window while my mom was in the shower."

What? Whatdidhejustsay??

He told me that when he was 4-years-old, he popped out a window screen in their 6th floor apartment and played a game of throwing out his toys one by one. Upset that all his toys were now on the ground, he leaned out the window to get them.

He remembers vividly hanging on, yelling, when a fire truck, sirens blaring, drove up. Out jumped a team of firemen carrying a trampoline. They yelled to him, “Go ahead. Jump! It’s safe! You’ll be okay! Just jump!”

So he jumped.

But that’s not what happened.

As the story was retold to him, a cab driver, lost in the neighborhood, looked up and saw what he thought was a doll falling out of a 6-story apartment window.

When he realized that it wasn’t a doll but a child, he rushed over to find the child on the soft, wet ground choking on his own tongue. He removed the child’s tongue and saved his life.

"Not a scratch or bruise on me," said the carpenter smiling in my doorway with his notebook of measurements in hand. "And I've been fixing windows for the past 35 years."

I am SO glad to be on this man's To-Do List.