In first grade, I started spending time on a long white shelf in my closet. Sometimes I was empty-handed, thinking about a six-year-old’s this and that. Other times I threw my 100-count box of Crayola Crayons up, like a little outfielder, along with a fancy children’s book. My mother brought leather-bound books several grades beyond my reading level, and since I couldn’t read them, I made them colorful. I remember feeling guilty the first time I drew on a thick, creamy page because the black and white illustrations looked important. Then I carried on. Other days I wadded up a little blanket and a pillow, flung them in the air, and climbed up to spend time wondering or worrying.
I nested on the top shelf where there was head room. Summiting the shelf was an athletic feat, requiring the mighty effort of a pull up followed by a scissor kick and the dragging of my useless second leg. After the effort, I’d rest on my stomach for a minute and give thanks to the air before I adjusted my school tunic and set up camp. If one of my mom’s enormous grosgrain bows was stuck to my head, I’d pry the claws from my scalp and toss it to the floor. The bow was glued to a metal clamp with sharp teeth.
The closet was my version of a tree house, only better, completely private with no windows for people to peek in. You couldn’t get splinters because the shelves were coated in white paint, and it was climate controlled. Most of all, I treasured the special quiet. The clothes hushed the bits and pieces of city sound that moved through the bottom of the door, turning them velvet. The small space the shelf afforded made it feel like a safe nook. My little heart and mind rested in peace on many afternoons before I was called to duty of some kind.
I still like sitting in the closet. Every now and then I’ll sit cross-legged on the floor for a bit of comfort. My best quiet place today is the window seat in our kitchen. It sits beneath a big set of windows with a view of our backyard. I curl up in a corner with the newspaper or a book most winter mornings.
It’s a treat when my daughter Emma tucks herself in with me. We sit with our knees touching and talk covered in blankets. Sometimes I look out the window and admire the sun’s artwork. Waxy magnolia leaves, clustered like bouquets, bend their arms back and shine. I recently noticed a new patch of grass by the window that looks like a beach vacation. It’s an island of new green where the sun’s energy radiates.
I wouldn’t look at the sun’s art without a nook to curl in and consider things. I hope you have one. If you don’t try the closet for comfort, and let me know how it works. xo