I remember sitting on the stairs, halfway up the stairs, in my childhood home. In a family that was bouncy and exuberant, full of colour and noise, it was important to me to spend some time half-way up.
There I would sit, bony knees touching my chin, hand resting on the white paint of the bannister, feeling its cool smoothness, fingers playing with the raised blobs of stray paint and uneven wood, varnished and perfect in their imperfection. I don’t remember the colour of the carpet, some ’70’s green or brown; I remember the scratchy feeling under my feet and the carpet burn and exhilaration you would get from bump-bumping down on your bottom. I’m not really an exhilaration girl. I was the girl who would stroke the bannister and think thoughts.
The reason I most liked it was because it was a place in a song (albeit one that Kermit sang):
‘Halfway up the stairs is a place where I sit
There isn’t any other place quite like it.
It’s not at the bottom, it’s not at the top
So this is the place where I’ll always stop.’
I wanted to be the star of a song, to be in the world of poetry. I liked the thoughtful, wistful tune, and I wanted to embody that melody, to inhabit the smoky, wispy place of imagination and melancholy, the half-way up, the in-between, the alone and the connectedness, as I sat with my feet made uncomfortable by the bristly carpet and my hand soothed by sturdiness and shininess of the bannister.
Now I am older, and the stairs no longer represent the worlds of possibility or invisibility but of disability. Today the stairs in my house are grand with a regency carpet, impossibly high and beautiful. They are the mountain I can climb just once a day. I live at the top, an isolation without choice, a Rapunzel waiting for someone to come rescue.
I am still the romantic, the one who longs for stairs to be more than wood and paint and carpet, the one who sees angels coming up and down, sparkling glimpses of heaven and the light airiness of a world beyond, waiting for my adventure to start.
Over to you:
- Where are the places that are special to you?
- Can you relate to feeling ‘in-between’, halfway-up?
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