I’m one of those very sensitive people. In first grade, I started spending time on a white shelf in my closet. I went there for comfort. The space was the perfect size for a six-year-old and the quiet was lovely like an empty chapel.
Sometimes I was empty-handed, thinking about a six-year-old’s this and that. Other times I hurled my Crayola Crayons up along with a fancy children’s book. My mother bought me leather-bound books I couldn’t read yet, so I made them colorful. I felt 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 on the shelf, 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. It required the mighty effort of a pull-up followed by a scissor kick. Getting the second leg up took almost as much muscle as the pull up. When I made it, I rested on my stomach for a minute to catch my breath. Then I 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 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 had several coats of white paint. Most of all, I treasured the unique quiet. The clothes adsorbed the bits of city sound that moved through the bottom of the door, turning them velvet. Nestled in silence, my little heart beat nice and slow on many afternoons before Mrs. McCarthy, my no-nonsense nanny, called to me duty of some kind.
I still like sitting in the closet. Every now and then I’ll sit cross-legged on the floor. The clothes act like sound tiles on the ceilings of recording studios, absorbing stray ambient sound. My best quiet place now is the window seat in our kitchen. It’s underneath a big set of windows with a view of our backyard. A wide green lawn and pine trees that grew to the sky live with native plants, flowers and herbs. I curl up in a corner of the seat with the newspaper on winter mornings when it’s too cold to sit outside in my rocker.
It’s a treat when my daughter Emma tucks herself in the window seat with me. We sit with our knees touching and covered in blankets. Sometimes I look out the window to admire the sun’s art. Waxy magnolia leaves, clustered like bouquets, bend their arms back and shine. I noticed a new patch of grass by the window yesterday that looks like a beach vacation. It’s an island of tender blades where the sun’s energy blooms.
I need a nook to curl in and consider things and quiet for comfort. I hope you have a quiet place for reflection. If not, try the closet for comfort. xoxo, Maureen