The best thing about our Halifax apartment is the views. The three main rooms (living room, small bedroom/den, and big bedroom) all have big windows half covering the walls, looking onto the ocean and harbour, with no obstruction. Only people born and bred in Tehran, used to looking out at the neighbours’ drying underwear, dirty old brick walls, crooked satellite dishes, asphalt roofs, and pigeon poo can appreciate what this means.
And no curtains! In Tehran, my sacred mother-in-law had decorated my living-room windows with the most hideous, vulgur, fashionable lacy-and-gold embroidered curtain she could find, as a moving-in present. My daughter used to say the pattern of the gold embroideries were like upside-down frowning faces. Getting rid of them would have meant bloodshed and warfare. Actually, they were a not-so-subconscious reason why I immigrated: as long as I was stuck in that flat in downtown Tehran, I was stuck with those monstrosities. And the view they were concealing was even uglier than themselves- a close-up of a grey brick wall and beyond that an abandoned half-constructed building lot. No sky.
What my children like best about the Halifax view is the activity. They can see train tracks running right up to the harbour; trains and ships and freights and trucks coming and going, loading and unloading. Every so often they will here the toot of a train, yell out to each other “A train is coming”, and race to the windows and watch . It still hasn’t got boring after more than a month, and in child-time, this is long indeed.
While the view is breathtaking enough on sunny days, I find it most arresting on misty days. The white mist rises up from the ocean, first slowly shrouding the trees, machinery and cranes, and gradually obscuring the whole panarama. The entire expanse of windows become white. Staring out, you can see nothing. Imagine a white flat, with a white(ish) carpet, white walls, -and recently a white sofa- and a large expanse of curtainless, bare shining white windows. For me, it has become symbolic of the decluttering of my life which I am trying to achieve through immigration to Canada: moving from the overcrowded, stuffy, breathless apartment in Tehran to this strange white apartment looking over a distant inky-blue ocean.