Blog Your Blessings Sunday: Basement Corners

The stone foundation of my grandmother's home formed the four walls of memory. Over the years, that dimly lit space yielded odds and ends--picture frames, pitchers, US Army caps--that became the bases of my grandmother's stories--vignettes that taken together speak to the importance of family, story, shared memory. The trinkets from down cellar continue to tease me into wondering what else was down there, what detail of family life had been put aside and forgotten?

The house I grew up in had a dark and mysterious basement, too. There were ancient wooden shelves built into one corner. The shelves were deep and led to dark spaces beyond time where the biggest, meanest spiders that never existed ate the corpses of previous occupants and waited to bite our curious fingers. We never used those shelves. There was the stairwell behind the Bilco doors where invisible demons just waited to pounce on us if we would only open the door....

I loved the basement and its faded living room furniture and books and darkness and humming furnace and churning washing machine. The basement was my hang-out, where I cut out Hollie Hobbies from old wrapping paper, read books, tried out my bike in safety and privacy, imagined stories and wrote them, and curled up on the old couch in dread of the spiders.

Rough, unfinished basements are interesting spaces.They are the wardrobes through which we travel into a world of our own making for a little while. It's a place to be in charge of everything until it's time to come back to reality and join the family for dinner.

My daughter has found a rough corner of our basement to call her own. She has a nice little home, a pretty and comfortable bedroom decorated according to her specs, a finished playroom....but her pride and joy is the unfinished space under the cellar stairs where she has hung her artwork, organized her Supplies for Everything, arranged stuffed animals, and even worked in a coffee table made of a cardboard box and wrapping paper. It's her fort. On Saturday, she invited the neighborhood kids to see the thing with its wall-to-wall carpet and purple curtains. There they played on a cold May day and wrote short stories and read them to each other. I was across the room working on the computer, but for all it mattered to the girls, I might as well have been on planet Earth.

(Click here to read what the girls wrote.)

Comments

  1. Anonymous10:19 AM

    What a beautiful story and a great blessing. Reminded me of my own corners over the years.

    Happy BYB Sunday and have a great week.

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  2. When I was a child I used to find such places in and around the house and claim them as my own. That was fun and a great blessing.

    Have a great week!

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  3. I have never lived in a house with a basement. They just aren't built here in California, but my relatives in the midwest have them and they always seemed mysterious to me as a child.

    My uncle used to put the Xmas tree down there. Fully decorated. No joke! From year to year, he just carried it up and down the stairs, never removing the ornaments and lights. He would just cover it up and wait for next year to lug it back up to the living room. That always cracked me up.

    Have a great Sunday!

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  4. What an enchanting story! Happy BYB Sunday! I remember the corners of dark basements...eeek!

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  5. Growing up in Texas, we did not have basements. But there was an old room on the back of the garage, once a darkroom, that served the same purpose.

    It was dark, hot, musty and the floor sloped. It had one windows that was painted black and would not open. It had a builtin desk that had cubby holes that I could use to organize my pine cones, leaves, shells, rocks and other treasures.

    It had a door that would not completely close, but which afforded as much privacy as you could expect in a small 2 bedroom home with six people living in it.

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  6. You BYBS brought memories of my own basement experiences back to the fore. How is it that something that simple can become a world unto itself?

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  7. Anonymous5:53 PM

    Oh, what a great post! How could I be with both the young you and your now daughter at the same time?

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