While my mother's home is lovely, inviting and airy, the complex it is housed in is anything but. The "towers" in Queens, New York are an early 70's example of embarrassing tastelessness: three cinderblock towers with brown metal facades. Each monolith houses a lobby decorated in cheap gold and glitz. In the reception areas, there are oversized blue velvet chairs arranged in circles that look set up for a 12-step program no one's attending. The hallway carpeting on the upper floors looks like something you'd find in a chain hotel near a regional airport. Around every corner, there's yet another mirror waiting to show you your own shocked expression staring back at you.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing shoddy about the place. It's well-maintained and considered "upscale." But I've always found the place mildly depressing, and today, in the back of a cab on a rainy February day, I find the towers especially daunting.