High and Low

 

The New Yorker 

          December 15, 2014 

                            Price $6.99 

I study each weekly cover 

of the New Yorker

carefully 

when it comes in the mail.

the most fascinating cover (to me) in the past six years was December 15, 2014 – a glimpse into two studio apartments at Christmas 

“High and Low” by Ivan Brunetti 

upstairs, closed door, sparsely furnished room – room to think, to breathe, to focus without distractionswalls painted cool grey – a young woman in a green sweater and a red plaid skirt seated at a computer table, staring at the screen

downstairs, open door – eclectic clutter! walls painted warm yellow – everything everywhere, scattered, a young man in a green overcoat, jeans, a red knit pom-pom cap. and a gray scarf entering the flat balancing three gift boxes and a gift bag 

upstairs and downstairs, the same doormat

the same hardwood floors 

the same layout 

upstairs, a floor vase holds a stripped branch adorned with a string of round Christmas lights 

downstairs, a potted balsam Christmas tree topped with a white dove, full of ornaments, minus the lights, sits on a table 

one gift underneath 

upstairs, a wall shelf lined with three Christmas cards on display sits above an electrical outlet where nothing is plugged in – three empty hooks by the door positioned over the light switch – modern and sleek gray light fixture hangs 

downstairs, two bookcases, a snowman decoration, a globe, an antique clock, a gold framed painting, a December calendar with Santa, a framed photograph of a lone subject, an antique radio, and a Mickey Mouse phone on a table, sit underneath a garland lining the fissured ceiling, where a traditional chandelier-style fixture hangs

upstairs, no pets – not even a computer mouse

downstairs, a white cat watches – he spilled a few bites of his food from the dish nearby 

upstairs, a modem and laptop sit on the single gray computer table occupying the room, accompanied by a to-go cup of coffee, green and white like Starbucks, complete with plastic lid 

and 

notably 

a place to sit – one black chair! 

downstairs, a wooden coffee table piled high with two stacks of work flyers or brochures sitting atop an unopened envelope, white porcelain saucer and cup of tea with a spoon nearby – also, an antique phonograph with a 45 under the needle, an open cardboard box of outgoing cards, a marked book on the floor, a laptop desk near the table, and an unstarted crossword puzzle, with a stray pencil near the fringed area rug

and I can’t help wondering how the ceiling got cracked

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