The Woman In The Window

Can you see the woman leaning against the window mullion.

The woman has been in the window since we before we moved into the house, but I only just saw her a couple of months ago.

Whoever painted the window last created her.

There she is, every day and night when I lay in bed and look out the window, leaning casually against the mullion, her elbow bent and her hand reaching up to her chin.  Her posture suggests a confidence,  thoughtfulness and ease.  Being in the window seems the perfect place for her to contemplate the world around her.

But why did it take me so long to see her.

I’m thinking it has something to do with the writer Shirley Jackson.  Because it was only after I saw her drawings that I saw the Woman in the Window.

I got the book when we were in New Mexico.  A collection of short stories, essays and drawings that were compiled by her children after her death, called Let Me Tell You.

Many of her drawings are stick figures of her and her family.  Cartoons that tell the story of her life as a writer, mother, and wife.  They are much like her writings of the same.

I’ve been reading Shirley Jackson since I was a teenager.  My favorite books of hers were always “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived In The Castle”.   I didn’t know about the writing she did about her family until I read her biography, A Rather Haunted Life,  last year by Ruth Franklin.

Reading her biography helped me understand why I related to Jackson’s stories my whole life.  They spoke to me of her feelings of being and outsider.  And of her struggles with trying to figure out how to be a writer, mother and wife in the 1950’s and 60’s.

One of Shirley Jackson’s Drawings that remind me of the woman in my window.

Now I know, realistically The Woman in the Window has been there all along.   But there’s  a part of me that likes to  think maybe there’s something else going on.

Shirley Jackson didn’t live to far from us in North Bennington, Vermont.  What if one of her stick figures came to life one day and walked off the paper.  Instead of being closed up between the pages of a book, she searched for her freedom and found it, gazing out my bedroom window.

Oh, how happy I’d be to have her there.  I imagine the conversations we might have.

If I ever repaint that window, I will never take a razor blade to what some might see as a paint splotch and I see as a woman.  As long as I’m in this house, The Woman in the Window will be here too.

Unless, of course, she decides she to move on.

Another of Shirley Jackson’s Drawings


6 thoughts on “The Woman In The Window

  1. I love that you can see the woman in the window, I have seen faces of people and creatures in the oddest of places, usually from shadows when the light falls just right, or splatters of paint or plaster patches. I saw gargoyle faces in my dresser drawer pulls, sketched them only to have them disappear a few hours later as the sun light moves through the window. It is so nice to know I am not the only one.

    1. I’ve always seen faces and other things in the “Pattern in the Carpet” as Margaret Drabble wrote. I think Deb, some of us just do.

  2. I got hooked on The Castle, and Hill House, but when I was contending with kids, Life Among the Savages was my companion. I didn’t know she drew sketches. They remind me of James Thurber’s work.

  3. Ahhh. Someone else who has found the magic of Shirley Jackson. She’s a special one–a longstanding favorite of mine (she wrote so beautifully in both darkness and light), and I’m delighted one of her women has escaped to your window, Maria!

    Anne from Montana

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