Creative space isn’t about putting up walls or hiding from the outside world, nor is it a simple desire to be away from people. Creative space is about finding solace and silence in the external world, so that we may adequately listen to our own minds. This can mean different things to different people: writers may want time to read and jot down thoughts, painters time to paint, designers time to sketch, process, and brainstorm.
I like rooftops. When we were kids my brother and I would play king of the rooftop from my Aunt’s Baby Sis’s shed. In movies they are either used to have romantic dinners for two or for chase scenes. Think of Matrix or Skyfall for the chase scenes and maybe You’ve Got Mail for the romantic scene. I know there are better examples but these are what come to mind. Rooftops are also used for people to jump off or fly off from if they are so inclined.
The Drifters made rooftops popular with their sixties hit Up On The Roof. I remember listening to that song over and over again and pretending that I was on top of the roof letting “All my cares just drift right into space.” These times were actually my first letting go experiences long before some New Age guru suggested putting your cares into a ballon and letting them drift away.
My home in Loja is on the top floor of a hotel and as the apartment next to me is unoccupied, I have the rooftop all to myself. I have not had any romantic dinners with a beautiful Lojanos woman, but I do spend many hours looking up at the sky or watching the fireworks from the rooftop. Because Loja is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador, established in 1548, the buildings themselves are almost all connected. The city is the perfect blend of old and new construction. The old walls form the walls and foundations for many of the new buildings. From what I have seen, buildings are never completely torn down. Space within El Centro is limited. Although there are many green plazas and parks within the city limits, individual yard space is very unusual to be included with a home. Outside El Centro yards are more abundant but still very small.
Because of these space restrictions, rooftops in Loja have many uses. The kids play soccer and volleyball on rooftops which is much safer than the streets if they cannot make it to the nearby fields or parks. They also serve to provide space for large family gatherings and barbecues. On sunny days you can see laundry hanging from almost every rooftop in sight. The laundry looks like Tibetan prayer flags waving in the breeze.
The Lojanos also raise their chickens and pets on their rooftops. Many of the rooftops in the area of my apartment have hen houses built on them. I think this is great utilization of space until the rosters start rostering at four o’clock in the morning or the dogs start barking out of frustration at other dogs or people walking on the street, but it is all a part of living here in Loja. A city I have come to love and appreciate for its diverse cultures and warm friendly people.
Right smack dab in the middle of town, I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof…Up on the roof.