Reflections: The Basement

I’ve written about childhood rooms in the past: My bedroom and my family room.

Now, I’d like to walk you through a tour of our basement.

The basement stairs were located just right inside the kitchen entrance. When you opened the door, a waft of cool, musty air charged with burning electronic circuits would assault your senses. The stairs were narrow and you felt like you were pitching forward, forcing you to grab onto the railing as you descended them.

At the base of the stairs, on your right, was my mother’s sewing room. This is where she would hole up and make all of our clothes or work on her projects. (And may I just say? My mom is an AWESOME seamstress, thank you very much). It was stacked, to the ceiling, with all sorts of material and craft paraphernalia. I remember using her sewing machine a few times to work on a totebag for home economics in high school.

I grew to HATE that totebag because no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t line up the seams right. It was the worst made totebag in the history of totebags, trust me. I also managed to sew my finger in her sewing machine, too. In fact, when the needle punctured my finger and I jerked back in reflex, it broke off in my finger (left a perfect needle-sized hole in my bone) and my mom had to rush me to the hospital while I sat there, holding my throbbing middle finger with a sewing needle embedded in it. It took four nurses to hold me down while the doctor yanked the needle out with a pair of pliers.

But that’s a story for another time. (Actually, that’s pretty much the entire story).

Exiting the sewing room, and back at the foot of the stairs to your right, was the door to the back patio. There were four/five stairs leading up to our fenced-in patio, the same patio where my brother stole my Barbie swimming pool, stripped down to his underwear, sat in the pool cross-legged and went “swimming.” My Barbie pool had two perfectly formed knee impressions permanently embedded in it from that time forward.

But I’ve since forgiven him for destroying my Barbie pool.

I have!

Sort of.

But back to the basement – when you enter the basement back through the patio door and descend the stairs, there is a shower immediately to your right. This shower has given me more than one nightmare throughout my lifetime. Our main bathroom didn’t have a shower, just a tub, and when I hit puberty and the thought of sitting in my own filth started to completely gross me out, (incidentally, it still does) I started using the scary shower in the basement. It was a no-frills, cold, concrete shower that smelled like moldy socks. It also housed many different types of spiders – I’m pretty sure I perfected my high-pitched girly scream while using that shower. In short, I hated that shower. But I hated taking a bath more, so I soon learned to live with the creepy-crawly insects that made a home in that shower from hell. (And by “learned to live,” I mean I closed my eyes and prayed that whatever creepy insect had taken up residence in that creepy shower for that day [because it seemed I saw a different type of insect/spider every time I used that damn shower] would not crawl into my small spaces, if you know what I mean).

Let’s get away from the shower, I’m starting to sweat just thinking about it.

The area next to the shower is a blur. I THINK we had a freezer (?) in that area and various other odds and ends – in essence, we used that area as a sort of storage space. I’m sure my mom is laughing and shaking her head right about now because I remembered it wrong -AGAIN. (She gets a kick out of telling me, “Oh Karen. That’s not what it looked liked/how it was at all!”).

My dad had his work area next to the storage area. He worked with electronics, so he had numerous TV sets in various stages of disrepair. In fact, most of the TV’s had their guts strewn all over his benches he had lined up around the room. He was always soldering wires, circuits and components together for various reasons so that it constantly smelled like charred wires in the basement. In fact, I can’t smell that smell today and NOT think of my dad. He spent a lot of time in his shop, working, experimenting, problem solving. I had no idea what he was doing and it was impressive that he knew what all of the tiny, foreign-looking components were. He absorbed that knowledge and later went on to write electronic classes for a college in New York.

Yes. My father is very intelligent. And yes, apparently that wasn’t a trait I inherited. Ha!

The last room in the basement was the family room / living room / TV room. We had a pretty large-sized TV and I remember watching a lot of shows down in the basement. We had our Atari gaming system down there, too, and though I played a lot of it, it seems like my brother was ALWAYS on there. I remember my sister watching a lot of cartoons as well. In fact, it got so out of control, that my parents had to step in and monitor her TV watching.

Sort of what I TRIED to do with the boys and their video games in the early years. I don’t dare monitor nowadays if I value my life. (I’m kidding. I totally pay attention to what they’re doing online and they aren’t allowed to stay on the ‘net all night long. Don’t judge, please).

It seems like dad had his weight bench and weights in that room, too, though I can’t be sure. And did we have one wall of mirrors? Like tiles of mirrors? Or maybe I dreamt that part.

I loved our basement. It was sort of a hole in the wall but I loved hanging out there (except for that shower – I avoided that thing until I had to use it. *shudder*) It was always cool and I was always hot (we didn’t have central air – just an attic fan) and though it smelled damp and musty, it was a comforting smell to me.

It was a comforting place to get away from it all.

Everyone needs a place like that, I think.

(This was only supposed to be a maximum of 750 words – it’s a little over 1,000. As usual, I went long).