It was not just the location of so many steadfast memories, but the keeper of them as well. I showed Dad the Murphy bed-style lunch tables and benches, at rest and flat in their wall slots. I explained the scientific method we employed for setting them up at lunch time: You’d find the release lever at the bottom, then everyone STAND BACK as a 12-foot-long folding metal bench crashes to the ground.
In that gym I lost many games of kickball, won many rounds of dodgeball, and defended my honor in an epic Parents vs. Students spelling bee. I even beat my dad, a fact I remind him of when I feel appropriate. If it’s a strange thought that I would take a picture of myself standing on the exact spot where I put everyone else away with the word LACKADAISICAL when I was 10 ... then never mind, I didn’t do it!
I showed him the room that scared me to pieces when I was in 5th grade … the upstairs girls bathroom. There was a perpetually extinguished light bulb, a small but steep flight of stairs, and an always-locked mystery door that had to be passed. Ironically, one of the few doors unlocked this time was that one, and after so many years I finally got to peek inside the room the nightmares were made of, and take stock of its dark, pernicious contents — brooms and toilet paper.
Since we are now deep into the holiday season, I couldn’t help but see it all with that in mind. The bulletin boards of my 3rd grade classroom, pinned with overlapping turkey hands, hanging my Halloween costume on a coat hook that is much shorter than I ever remember it actually being, and of course, the Christmas tree.