Doing Childhood Right…
I realized a few days ago that almost all of my best memories from childhood and right up into my teenage years involve reading books in closets. There was a while — a few years when my family lived next door to a private arboretum that was secured from public access by an iron fence — that I had an outdoor spot, on the corner of our property where a cluster of azalea bushes grew on both sides of the fence and created a kind of secret cave where I could hide out to read and/or and look for faeries. Aside from that, though, every other good memory that I have involves me reading in a closet. Usually a linen closet because, almost inevitably, a good-sized linen closet — and we always had a good-sized linen closet because we almost always had a good-sized house — has a light inside, making it both a good place to hide and a perfect place to read.
Because my parents were apparently physically unable to restrain themselves and religiously unable to use contraceptives, I got to read in closets in three different houses, as more space was required on a somewhat regular basis. The last of the houses that we all shared provided me with an option which I found to be quite a luxury, a particularly large linen closet with nice wide shelves on which I could actually recline if I so desired. In addition, I had my very own room, if I didn’t mind being easy to locate.
Mostly, though, I preferred to hide out.
The sexual activity that I was being involved in at home mostly took place at night; I wasn’t hiding from that; it was expected behavior. Hiding from that would probably have proved pointless anyway as it could very well have ended in my losing my secret daytime reading spots as they wouldn’t be secret anymore. I was hiding from the world when I could, because I could, just so that I could have time for me and, since my favorite activity was reading, hiding out in closets with good lighting was a perfect way to escape for a while from a far-less-than-perfect childhood.
From time to time I hear people fondly recalling their childhoods and I’ve noticed — so far at least — that no one else that I know seems to have spent nearly as much time as I did in closets, let alone reading in closets.
I don’t know that my childhood joy set the standard for me as to how I like to live my life, but I do refer to myself as “a hermit with friends.” The current quarantine stuff doesn’t faze me all that much. My home is my refuge from a world I guess I still don’t fully trust… and everything I like to do — quite a lot of which involves reading — I can do right here. It’s rather like having a very big closet with big windows that look out into the woods where all the faeries live and that I get to share with a lovely man who makes me feel as if I am a treasure. It’s almost as if I’m finally getting to do childhood right.