Slowly opening the door. The house is old enough that no doors open quietly any longer. If I open it very slowly I can minimize the sound. Wow, just opened it. In my mind I’m taking a huge cleansing breath as I walk in. There is the smell of the plastic bags on the “off season” clothes that are stored here. The dust even from a closed closet is deep in my nostrils. The sense of smell has always been strong for me, but not here. Here it is about light vs. darkness.
Fall 1960 I was placed in this narrow “room” for the first time. I realize that when we are children, sometimes things seem bigger or smaller than we recall as adults. This bedroom was over the garage, so one of the largest. On the east was a closet that ran the length of the bedroom. It was quite narrow. Maybe 2-3 feet wide, but very, very long.
My first visit to that space was my mother placing me in the 1960 equivalent of a time out. She forgot where she put me. I learned to like the smell of the plastic on the clothes and the stair that led to the next part of the closet. Even the dusty smell was a comfort. SHE FORGOT where she put her 5 year old oldest child!
It was totally black. It was an inside wall, so the only light was a single bulb with a chain and string attached. I was too short to pull the string and light up the closet. I’ve said it already, but had to remind myself again.
The darkness became my friend. When I heard the words, “you are adopted and thank God not my genes that caused you to be xyz.” When my dad wasn’t home, mom would dig her fingernails into my upper arm, so it would be covered by my uniform blouse. That part isn’t for today, it’s for later.
My first reaction to this assignment was to talk about a beach in Australia when I was 25. Then I smelled the lilac trees. Then I thought about my 59th birthday and my mostest quietest place ever – that closet where she first tried to silence me.