Vampires in Suburbia

Morning fog lingers around trunks of giant trees wearing robes of Kudzu. Heat and moisture creep into the day on cicada-winged notes. We intermittently drive through tunnels of greenery that hide the clouded blue sky above.

Another Atlanta summer, and we were on a mission to find fabric. Yes, I said fabric. Before Alex, I don’t think I had ever stepped into a fabric store: now I know Jo-Anne and Michael by their first names.

But Alex doesn’t just settle for retail, she’s a wholesale hound in the best sense of the word. She can find the source of just about anything, and somehow finagle a deal. Granted the minimum quantities can be a problem: We have had large pallets of various things delivered to our doorstep. And in LA, we had no basement or garage to help store these things. Our Atlanta house has both…. A blessing and a curse.

The heat of the summer had turned Alex’s attention to curtains. Blackout curtains to be exact. These are the double-paneled, heavy curtains with fabric on one side, and an opaque rubberized material on the other. They keep the sun and heat out, and create a dark room at night.

I almost forgot to mention, my wife’s a vampire; or at least she has the habits of one. She cannot sleep in a room that lets in any outside light. Now I have become light-sensitive as well. I guess you adapt to those around you? That, or she bit me.

We found the fabric store in Marietta. It was a little white southern house in the shadow of a gigantic billboard that looked bigger than the store itself. We parked under the billboard for shade. “Welcome to Marietta,” I said to Alex.

Inside, the sound was muffled by rolls and rolls of fabric, arranged by color. We passed pink girly prints and red brothel-looking material, light blue baby themes and darker blue nauticals, and found our way to the beige section. I know beige sounds boring but, probably Restoration Hardware influenced, it is our base color—that and grays.

Alex grabbed a pair of scissors from the end of a roll and started cutting the stuff right there in the aisle. “Uh, honey,” I said looking around, “are you supposed to be cutting up the inventory?” “This is a sample swatch. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing,” she said. And I guess she was right: We walked out of there with enough sample swatches for a quilt, and no one seemed to blink.

Making curtains is more work than I thought. I mean just the math involved to make sure you get enough material to cover the job is hard enough for me, but then there’s the cutting and pinning of the material, the pleating, the sewing of course, and the hardware. Fortunately, Alex did everything but the hardware. I can handle hardware.

The first night with our new curtains, we slept like…vampires. We had no clue how late it was when we woke up the next morning until I pushed back the curtains and was almost blinded by the bright summer sun.

The next night before bed, Alex noticed me putting something in my nightstand. “What’s that?” she asked. “Sunglasses!” I said. “Welcome to the brood,” she replied with a smile.

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