Our little apartment’s front door opens— halfway, because of the shoes and coats stuffed against the wall— into the kitchen. There are two hallways: right goes into the living room, left to the bathroom and the bedroom.

In the living room on both of the long walls there are floor to ceiling shelves cascading with books, pictures, dog toys, watering cans, knitting needles, colored yarn. On the floor there are milk crates serving as filing cabinets, there are portable plastic filing boxes full of papers, there are woven baskets pouring out Dwells, New Yorkers, Bon Appetits, Atlantics, and Vanity Fairs, there are shoes, plants, bags, shirts, mechanical pencils, notebooks made of recycled paper. The bedroom has dog beds on the floor, and blankets, clothes, sheets, pillow cases, academic articles, parts of newspapers, coffee cups, books, scissors. Tumbleweeds of dog hair roll down the hallway. In the kitchen and the bathroom the heaving detritus is organic.

There are windows in every room of our apartment: three in the kitchen, and four in the living room. Even the bathroom has a window above the tub; from the shower you can look out at the university and see the blue of Lake Michigan. From the bedroom window you see only a monolith of sky scratched by seagulls and hawks.

In the living room the sunlight is so bright that I often think, as I walk down the hallway first thing in the morning, Did one of us forget to turn off a light in here? The room has two exposures, east and west; standing in the middle you can follow the stone of the university buildings as it cuts through the green campus; you can see the light signal off the blue lake; you can watch a storm gather downtown and engulf the towers.

“How is it that the sunlight gives us such joy?” asked Guy de Maupassant. If I focus too long on my possessions in this space I will curse at Virgil, fight with Gwendolyn, lock myself in the bedroom and disdain an afternoon. But if I stand at a window, any of our windows, I can call the attention of the gulls, alert them to where the danger is circling above us. Or look down to see the whiskers emerging from a drainpipe below.