October 17, 2014

The Beautiful Basement

The Beautiful Basement
         As a little girl I loved visiting my Grandma. She had a special magical place in her house. It was a beautiful place. It was her basement. I know most people don’t like basements. They are cold and dark. Their shelves are filled with dust and their corners covered in cobwebs. Bugs and spiders spiders and mice crawl along the floors. Most children are afraid of basements. They look like dungeons with monsters lurking in the shadows, but not my Grandma’s basement. Her basement was beautiful.

It is true, that Grandma’s basement smelled like dirt but it was not the smell of fresh overturned dirt like when planting a garden. This was old dirt. This dirt was from the beginning, Genesis dirt, “and God called the dry land earth” dirt. That’s how old it was. The moment we stepped on the first squeaky stair the aroma of ancient, stale dirt and cold concrete filled our nostrils.
The steep stairs were aged and cracked, a little like my Grandma’s face with wrinkles and creases. We would carefully descend down each step as if each held a land mine about to explode. I loved how they creaked and squeaked like angry cats in a cat fight on a night with a full moon. The hanging laundry would cast shadows across the floor that looked like old grey ghosts. Thankfully, Grandma would always assure me that they were just her old house dresses and Grandpa’s slacks. 
Jars of bottled apricots lined the shelves. Row after row, jar after jar, like soldiers standing at attention lined up for inspection. Grandma would often open a jar and we would partake of the sensational apricot sweetness. We would lap up the apricots like puppies at a dish full of warm milk. Sappy syrup sloppily spilt down our chins and dripped on our noses. With the back of our hands we would clumsily wipe all the wonderfulness and sweetness in one fail swoop from off our faces only to beg for more.
My favorite part of the beautiful basement was Grandma’s bed.   It was big, soft, and white. We would snuggle on that bed and Grandma would tell stories. “Life begins and ends in a bed” she once said. As a little girl the thought intrigued me. I pictured the bed like white fluffy clouds in heaven; one sending new baby spirits down to earth and the other inviting an old tired spirit back home. Grandma’s bed became my own heavenly cloud for me and my grandmother.
When I was in the beautiful basement with Grandma nothing else mattered. We had no idea what was happening on the other side of the old, worn out, blue door at the top of the stairs. 
The house could have been violently swept away by a tornado, tossed and turned and dropped in the Land of Oz and we would never have known. I wouldn’t have cared. My Grandma was beautiful. Time with my Grandma was beautiful and that is why the basement is beautiful.