I am happy to be going to my writing space: Paragraph on West 14th Street. I pack my computer into its blue case, then stow the case in my backpack. Heft the straps across my shoulders. Then out the apartment front door, down-seven steps, a landing, seven more steps, on maroon carpet beginning to show some wear- to the building's front door Through the inner door, past the mail boxes, out the front door, down the 12 steps, open and close the wrought iron gate, left on the sidewalk.
Then 150 steps east to the corner of West 13th and Sixth Avenue; left and 80 steps to the corner and either straight across 14th Street or right turn and then across Sixth Avenue, depending on which light is green; and across the street again; then east 100 steps on the north side of West 14th Street, past the deli and the nail parlor, past the hotel union hall and the fried chicken store and the new coffee lounge and the Western Union and then I am at the door, standing between the wig shop and the lighting store run by Chinese who always make me feel I have entered Shanghai.
I am at the brown door, using my wide key, the entrance to Paragraph, and then inside, the door clicks behind me, and I stand to face the three flights of 17 stairs each, can see the glass door at the top, the door to quiet respite and other writers and words and the soft computer keyclack of sentenceparagraphs, of thoughts and musings, of the me I've been trying to get to all day and hope now will be there, be somewhere, be resident, be available inside, ready to come out and play.
At the top of the stairs, listening to my breath, I punch in the five number code, the red light turns green, there is a click, I open the door, I exhale and then inhale the air inside, a compound of old floor and new ideas. Once inside, I walk the eight steps down the hall, past the lockers on one side and the coat hooks on the other, and then I open the inner door and enter the room.
There are 25+ cubbies scattered around the room, side to side, back to back, walkways in between on the old wooden floor. There is a central area with two sofas and two chairs, books and lamps, a carpet, for reading, sleeping, thinking. Every cubby is the same, the vacant ones are there for the taking. Today my cubby has a blond wood desk, gray fabric walls with, today, one green push-pin stuck at an odd angle (who wrote here before me? what picture did they put up? why don't I have a picture to put up? if I put a picture up would I be a better writer? what picture should I use?), one light (sometimes two), a scarred old wooden floor that shakes and creaks whenever anyone leaves a cubby or comes into the room.
I plug in the computer charger, lace the cord up through the hole in the desk to the computer, plug in, open the computer, turn it on, wait through the warming, the prompts, the appearance of my current screensaver (a picture of my favorite California coast, golden grasses, dark green eucalyptus, sunsparkle on the waves of the Bay beyond), the desktop icons. I open the Word program. A blank white facsimile of a piece of paper appears, resting on a blue gray background. I can hear another writer moving, and somewhere else computer keys are ticking. I breathe. If I am lucky, if, as I hope, there's something there, I will, I can, I must start to write.