Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Under The Radar

My wife calls it "our Magic Basement." At another time, I might have joked about that title made me think that we could be growing special mushrooms down there. But not now. I know exactly what she means. She's referring to the kind of magic that Mary Poppins had in her bag when she showed up at Banks' residence for an extended stay. Whatever one might need is down there in our basement. Coaxial cable? We've got it. Medium size dog kennel? Got it. High chair? We've got that too. If there's ever a need for a fleet of one eighteenth scale construction and rescue vehicles to fill out the public works department of a one eighteenth scale city, we're set.
We hang on to things. We do this because we can. Why bother throwing away a perfectly decent childhood when we've got room below our house to store a couple? Train sets and Hot Wheels and Big Wheels and enough "spare Legos" to build a whole new structure in which to house the Legos that still live upstairs beneath my son's bed. And it's not just our stuff. Every so often we'll get a call from a friend or relative that starts out, "You guys have that big basement, right?" And then we wait to find what object or monstrosity we will happily store for some indeterminate amount of time. A box or two? No problem. Luggage? We'll just stack it next to our own. Pop-up camper? It will be a squeeze, but we can make it work.
Over the years there have been some good faith efforts to clear the place out. We've had a yard sale. We've put things up on Ebay. We've carted out buckets and bushels and boxes of detritus and debris, remanding them to Goodwill and various recycling centers. Somehow these various attempts at making room never amount to much. Still, we have enough empty space down there to make us all dream and wish of ways we could use the basement as some alternative living/playing/exercising place. All that potential mixed with all those memories makes for a very mystical spot.
This contrasts mightily to our attic, which has every bit as much room, but because our access is limited to a trap door located in my son's closet, it has remained empty save for the thick blankets of insulation we installed years ago. No cartons full of letters, crates full of toys, just a bunch of cobwebs and room to grow. Which doesn't mean we don't think about life with a second story. Before we moved into our house we had the foundation upgraded and bolted to take for just such an endeavor. But what happens above our heads remains illusory, while beneath our feet are all the possibilities and playthings of a lifetime. Or three. We're not ready to be rid of it just yet.

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