After the funeral, I started hanging out in the attic where my mom’s book collection had been banished to cardboard boxes (their shelves below long since appropriated for pictures of our new blended family, women’s magazines, and kitschy knick-knacks). A serenity came over me each time I entered that peaked room, greeted by grandma’s clothing dummy and grandpa’s hatrack. Everything in the room was old, and therefore uninteresting to Donna and Debra, so I had my peace. Wood paneling ran up the slanted ceiling and the corners of the door were even carved off to fit the angles. A dormer window over the front driveway let in some nice afternoon sunlight.
I stacked an old mattress on top of the book boxes and would study in the afternoons, sometimes dozing off and not being missed by the others until morning; soon it became home base, and a perfect place to ride out my grief. I spent many hours just holding still. I’d find myself reading a paragraph over and over again, then let my eyes unfocus a bit, then find myself watching the dust motes float in a sunbeam, and wonder at them: Are there dust motes in the shadows, too? Am I breathing dust motes? What are they made of? Are they all little worlds like in Horton Hears a Who? These reveries would come upon me often that year, almost as if my organized mind went into idle so another part of me could grow. The Girls teased me about being ADD as kids still do. Sylvia criticized me for being ‘spacey,’ but she was right. In my mind I would hear my mother’s voice, teasing me fondly for being a dreamer, but respecting the work of a woolgathering mind. (I talked to her a lot in the attic, where no one could judge me for being crazy.)
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