The Paris Review Daily

Windows on the World

Lysley Tenorio, New York, New York

January 17, 2014 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Lysley Tenorio (the Standard)

From room 1006 at the Standard, East Village, you see a white-faced clock overlooking a small triangular park. A sea-green dome ringed with small arched windows is partly blocked by a boxy rectangular building, faded and plain except for the cross on its south-facing wall. On the rooftop hangs a single line of laundry. Straight ahead is a building, wide and blank as a wall, that nobody seems to enter or exit.

If you don’t live in New York, you might not know the names of these buildings or their significance, how they function in the city, what they mean to its people. But this is the gift of being somewhere new, in a place that will never be home. Everything is defined by your first impressions. That sea-green dome, so out of place and time, might house things both ancient and futuristic—rusted astrolabes on the shelves, side by side with next generation iPads. The crucifix could be the final remnant of a failed church, the original cathedral demolished decades ago, replaced by a building full of a thousand cubicles. That white-faced clock, the brightest thing at night, may very well be the front of a crime-fighter’s headquarters or a supervillain’s lair. That line of laundry, winter-damp and flapping—those are the clothes of a dead man who had no loved ones left behind to gather them. And directly across, that building is lifeless as ever, but someone is inside, waiting to be glimpsed, you’re sure of it. All you need to do is wait. —Lysley Tenorio

Lysley Tenorio is currently the Paris Review Writer-in-Residence at the Standard, East Village.

 

2 COMMENTS

2 Comments

  1. Lorin Stein | January 18, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Welcome to New York, Lysley!

    I love your version, but it might amuse you to know that the building with the “thousand cubicles” is in fact a parochial school — and the setting of Ottessa Moshfegh’s story “Bettering Myself” (issue 204).

    http://www.theparisreview.org/fiction/6208/bettering-myself-ottessa-moshfegh

    We all wish you a very productive stay.

  2. Pete Jameson | January 18, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I moved to New York in 1979 to attend college at St. John’s in Queens. My subway rides took me through a Brooklyn that was shattered. My frame of reference was Dresden, about which Vonnegut wrote in “Slaughterhouse Five”. I know a lot has changed, but it that ride on the F train will always conjure up Dresden.

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