At age 11 I began my love affair with books. Reading had become a therapy. More than just that - an escape. My grandmother had this amazing house with so many nooks and crannies I tirelessly explored to cozy up and read. Along the front of the house was a sun room with a hodge podge of couches padded with blankets and old chairs. If that room could talk it would tell of lazy summer days, and hot chocolate under the stars. It was there that I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery and all the wonderful meadows, and sprawling green farms and peppery stories of another time and place.
The “secret” place was just inside the coat room under the stairs. Just in the foyer there was a place for hanging coats, but inside there was a place just big enough to have a soft place to read and even a small window. There I fell in love with Francie Nolan and resolved that she was who and what I wanted to be in life. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn still holds the hopes and dreams of what I wanted to do. Who I’d hoped to be.
Grandmother had the most amazing typewriter. It was huge and bulky with individual keys and manually fed paper. It was yellow. It was perfect.
I remember being in my room just writing and writing. When I wasn’t writing I was indexing my library just as an excuse to type as much as I could. It was frustrating and slow work. I loved every bit of it.
I wrote stories. I wrote stories about writing stories. Even with today’s technology, if I had it, I would use it. It was real. I connected to it. No screen, no lights, no windows, no templates, no tool bar. Just me and the words.
It was always a thrill to sleep over Grammie’s house. At bedtime I was able to have a bath in the huge white claw foot tub. I remember how she always put out a Donald Duck soap dish just for me for me and getting to dry enveloped in plush towels. Then, the very best part of spending the night at Grammie’s house - going to bed.
It may sound odd and it probably was. Most 11 year old girls who have sleepovers share gossip and do each others hair. I’m sure young girls stay up all night long. Not me. Grammie’s bed was one of my favorite place in the whole world.
After drying off and a sprinkle of rose scented talc she would take two stuffed animals down from their perch so I could sleep with them. Two dogs, “Pinky and Greenie”. They only came out to snuggle when I was there with her. She would tuck me into bed. Heavenly quilts, crisp, cool sheets, Grammie tucking me in tight. I felt so safe there listening to the faint music and crackles of the vintage radio on just loud enough to keep me company and lull me off to sleep.
My grandmother does not live in that house anymore. Before she moved I wrote notes about myself and what life was like when I was eleven. I wedged one in behind a brick in the fire place. One in the secret place, and behind a old Santa sign that stayed in the sun porch all year round. I wonder if anyone has found them. Maybe a young girl will find them someday.
When I visit back home and drive down that street I miss my castle filled with all the stories I have read. The ones I want to write. Places filled with Grammy’s quilts, rose scented talc, and my imagination.