At my home, we always used the back door. The back door was the stage entrance to my life. I took one step inside the back door, and my mother knew what I had for lunch. I thought she had ESP. She knew I wore my lunch on my shirt. From the back door I could get anywhere I wanted to be. I had a straight shot to the kitchen, through the kitchen to my bedroom, or down the stairs to the basement—the world where Alice in Wonderland might greet me.
From the back door, Craig Capitani would call my name in the primitive interval--soooo-mi--that all kids use, "Emmmmm-me," and without waiting, in he would come to find me.
My mom who named the basement "the hole" would hear us in my room, being too loud or too rowdy, and soon would announce, "Down the hole." Like Alice, we soon would be in a world where anything might happen.
The basement was replete with possibilities. It was an indoor-outdoor space that stretched to the riverbank some 30 years out the basement door. Plays, fashion shows, and entire movies happened all in the same day. Railroad cities were built there. Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Peter and Gordon headlined there long after my big brothers left behind their record collections in search of their real lives. Fabulous paintings were created in that studio. Craig Capitani and I shared our first kiss on that couch. I think it was after we made wax candles shaped like people and watched them melt into clumps like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Out the basement door, we were explorers. Usually we started under the old oak tree, laid back looking up. conspiring about what to do next. Once we took care of the traditional grass fight, I would stay looking up at the sky, and my brave, wiry friend might try to climb the old oak as if it were an African coconut tree. Did he really do that? I'm not sure, but it's well within possibility. From there we'd often end up exploring the river and beyond.
We discovered uncountable fossils still unknown to the human race. After that first time, we weren't allowed to bring them home anymore. We found locations for movies and tree houses that would have made us millions had we only had time to pursue them between school and other important basement endeavors.
You see, Dawn, the back door to the basement, it was always where we started. It was always where we ended.
It was the portal to where we always were.
—me strauss Letting me be