6 or maybe 7


I lay like a cat curled up in the sun. My eyes were closed but I wasn’t asleep. I was home from school and it wasn’t yet time for dinner. I was 6 or 7 years old, and I was laying on the floor by a sunny window in the room we called the den. It was a room filled with things that didn’t belong anywhere else: Dad’s home desk where he sat to balance his bank accounts and pay bills, a small dark wooden desk which drawers contained hidden treasures like bags of candy, slide rules and calculators, protractors and compasses, and graph paper, and which lower drawer I would later find out was sometimes used as a hiding place for birthday and Christmas presents. Mom’s sewing machine lived across the room from the desk, on a tabletop attached to a small cupboard with its built-in wooden dowels that held rainbows of spools of thread, and its small drawers each holding small collections of zippers, bobbins, buttons, elastic, and assorted small objects and instruments the use of which I could only imagine (and frequently did). Familiar patterns of fabrics left over from hand sewn pajamas, beloved dresses, doll’s clothes, and collections of worn clothing being saved for mending or for quilts were all around, on shelves, cupboards, and ironing board. Also in the den was the upright piano I practiced on every day after having begged for lessons for I don’t know how many months, my lesson book with the red cover sitting open on the music rest and the brass piano lamp perched above along the front edge of the top board next to piles of books and sheet music and one or two family photographs. Aside from the long sloping front yard and the tall old trees outside the house, this was my favorite place to be. My mind and body relaxed, at home in this space, quiet, warm, full of color and memory.
I lay there on the floor that day, with something soft beneath me, a pillow or folded blanket perhaps, closing my eyes but not sleeping, and I felt a sensation that was new to me. It was a feeling of my self extending beyond my body. My mind knew where my legs were, could feel without looking the position of bent knees and feet set arch to arch. Yet at the same time I had a distinct sense of my self, of “me”, being present and aware beyond the space inhabited by my physical body. I lay there for some time examining this sensation, wondering about it and also wanting to tell someone about it. I still remember this: the feeling reminded me of my white flannel pajamas with the tiny blue and yellow flower pattern. And it reminded me of soft buttery pastel mints. Things soft and changeable and loved and part of me yet somehow separate. I lay there feeling my legs outside of where I knew my legs were, feeling my arms and my head extending into space that wasn’t me. But was still me. As now, I looked for meaning and direction in this experience. What did it mean? What should I do now? Is everything now different?
Eventually I got up and found Mom in the kitchen making dinner. I don’t remember what happened then. I liked to help her with certain things: kneading or rolling dough, grating cheese, stirring anything. Or I would sit and watch her, listening to music, singing, talking, dancing. I wanted to tell her about my legs being where they weren’t but didn’t have words to describe it. So we probably talked about school or about the trees in the yard or about the grasshoppers that jumped so high through the tall grass or what time Dad would be home.


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