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 was in the habit of buying leather-bound books several grades beyond my reading level. Since I couldn’t read them, I made them colorful. I remember feeling guilty the first time I drew on a 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 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. I was relieved every time I made it to the top. 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 I one of my mom’s enormous grosgrain bows was stuck to my head, I’d pry it off and declaw it. 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 layers of 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 after cleaning it. It’s so comforting. My best quiet place now 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, shine with pride. You can discover mesmerizing layers of color in the bark of an old pine tree. 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 seems to radiate.
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