Sunday, May 22, 2016
I had returned to Edinburgh to study and was searching for the flat which I had purchased at a distance without viewing beforehand. It took me some time to find the right door, the numbering system not one I immediately recognised; three numbers, one variant.
I could see the sweep of a hill behind the houses, a gathering of trees atop, the promise of the sea and a church bathed in setting light; independent impressions. I compared this view to the view I held up in my hand on a postcard. It must be this door, a coral coloured door. This location, this aspect, distantly but distinctly familiar as if I had made this return before, perhaps portentous this feeling.
Once inside and looking around fellow student flatmates unmet appeared, already settled in. A larger than life-size cardboard cut out of a female actor in corset and suspenders propped up in an armchair directly opposite the main entrance.
Apart from that one bright view which seemed suspended in no particular fixed place once inside, the flat was dark. Windows in the living room looked out onto a close external wall, heavily curtained, the sills and ceilings above wet and dripping, paintwork peeling.My heart sank. Maintenance, money, mistake.
We walked into a small bathroom where the light returned, a window opened out or maybe the outside came in. I saw myself in a mirror, long haired. A warm breeze, two birds on a tree; a moment that slowed down and righted.
Now looking behind doors in anticipation of finding at least a bedroom in which I could be well. A shock at the discovery of what was to be my room. The door opened onto a large, low ceilinged, windowless and wet space, tiled over with colourful swimming pool tiles as if once partly underwater. Shallow troughs - perhaps waterways, low walls, metallic steps,a hose. All in a disquieting and irregular arrangement that I could not recognise or make sense of and knew I could not live in or even happily beside.