Monday, May 25, 2009

I have moved into my new home in Ottawa. The house is huge, with interiors defined by flat, glaring white surfaces. Every room is tinged with a cold, clinical blue. The house exudes loneliness. I move through hallways and a bedroom and see two sets of sliding closets, unimaginatively placed parallel to each other.

I move to other parts of the house and see that it belongs to O's family; I’m their guest. The knowledge doesn’t lift my spirits—they’re not my favorite people. With the knowledge that this giant house is for a family of four, the spaces seem bigger than ever. I walk down a wide, white hallway to peer into O’s room. The king-sized bed is rumpled with toys and possessions tossed about. Objects—too much material wealth—litter the floor.

In another part of the house I see her younger brother. Small and nerdy, sporting oversized glasses with brightly colored rims—the trendy kind—he sits before a super-sized computer, eyes fixed on the screen. One hand deftly navigating the mouse, a vapid smile on his face, he is learning Chinese. As the words scroll by, he selects the characters he needs extra help with remembering, or that are otherwise important. The computer talks to him as he engages in this expedited process of learning. I see an unfair advantage at work.

I move to a workshop or display center, where Uncle L shows off the fancy centerpieces he has made. This is his hobby. Although he thinks of these items as high art, they actually look just like the expensive, pointless home décor sold in bourgeois chain stores such as Pottery Barn. As a form of appreciation for my looking at his art, he presents one of the centerpieces to me as a gift. It is one of the more boring-colored of the pieces. He could have at least given me a brightly-colored one.

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