As I came to bed tonight – at 2am, early for me – I pulled the chain on the banker’s lamp on the old metal filing cabinet that serves as my bedside table, and watched the light flicker through the green glass shade. I flipped the shade to look at the bulb, wondering if it was loose, but it flickered some more and went out. I unscrewed it and shook it gently, and heard the filament scrape along the glass from the inside. No, it was not loose.

The bulb was not a typical round GE bulb, but one of those more tubular Philips ones. I didn’t remember ever buying those, and as I went through the darkened house to the laundry room, to the cabinet over the washer, I could not ever remember changing this light bulb. I was convinced I’d changed every bulb in the house, except this one. Was this my father’s lamp? Had he put the light bulb in, twelve or more years ago? Long Life, the bulb says on it. Long Life, indeed.

With difficulty, I found another traditional 60 watt incandescent bulb. Most of the supply on hand were CFs, used in most of the house. I have some daylight corrected bulbs I use in my office to try and keep the color neutral for photo editing purposes. There were some ceiling fan bulbs, oddball specialty bulbs, and things for night lights. And on the top shelf, behind a frisbee, some of the classics.

I got a new bulb and then remembered no, this is not my father’s lamp. My father’s lamp got broken when I moved it across the country, and after a brief but stupid period of mourning I got this lamp because it looks just like it. I’d maybe not have remembered that particular trip to Office Max, but there was a similar lamp next to it with a blue glass shade, which I thought looked cool, and then I decided looked too cool. I was not after cool.

I changed the bulb, and turned on the lamp. The light through the top is green and the light from below the the right yellow-brown. It’s not my dad’s lamp, but the color of the light looks like home.


This was published on 29 May 2010.
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