During these first two weeks in Shenyang, China I'm living in the apartment of Jeff Stone's family, the director of the Shenyang Brave Language Training Center. It is a large, three bedroom apartment, with beautiful wood floors, a full size bathroom/laundry room and another bathroom off the master bedroom, a kitchen, dining area, living room and sun porch.
It is simply too much space for one man to inhabit. Whether a man can be an island unto himself is irrelevant. Put enough empty space around him, and he's going to feel like an island. As such I keep all the doors closed to keep the echoes at a minimun.
The emptiness of the apartment makes me realize that I'm not going to be able to spend the rest of my life alone if I settle down in one place. How could anyone be a hermit? Eventually the walls will get bored watching you and just you and start to get rude. It's not the size of the house, it's the size of the man in the house.
The evenings in the apartment are not a good time to let the mind wander. The lack of noise, voices, and the abundance of empty volume skew foresight and alternately light up and shadow the past.
I imagine the walls at Smith House have been both scandalized and highly entertained over the years. The new walls probably aren't prepared for the experience. I hope the drywall will hold up as well as the plaster did. I am very excited for the return of the Smithies to Smith House this fall. Fell deeds awake... well maybe not fell, but amusing at the least.
Because I have to...
I've seen places, faces and smiled for a moment,
But oh, you haunted me so.
Still my tongue tied, young pride
Would not let my love for you show,
In case you'd say no.
- From Russia With Love, by Matt Monro