I wish I could take you there, so you could see how gold and green the place is. We can’t get in anymore — the gates are locked and tucked behind a hidden code.
But I’ll tell you how I used to polish the brass stair rails with chemicals to make them gleam, how the smell pushed into my nostrils, lightening my mood. The carpet was thick and green and I pushed my vacuum into perfect lines; the only thing that clung to the floor was bits of fern, laurel, Spanish moss. Someone in 1960 had designed the space to look like a jungle; there were even monkeys painted on the linen wallpaper, peeking behind embroidered vines. On the teakwood buffet by the elevators (which also brass, like the railings) three white porcelain Capuchins sat Indian-style, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, speaking no evil. Also on the buffet (which I had to dust with a slightly damp rag only) was a little cream-colored card, reminding residents of impending parties or power outages due to work on the lines overhead. It was hard to imagine a life outside the lobby, one that was filled with bitter grey Midwestern winter, with poor people, with hard-soled shoes that clunked and rattled on cold tile that one could slip and fall on. Dying was comfortable and glamorous, full of monkeys, vines and ferns. Like the trips they took before they got too old to leave.