My Drift

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

Wouldn’t it be Loverly?

As I descended the stairs the other day, I was reminded of the 1989 Bobby Brown hit “Every Little Step.” Every little step I took made me wince in pain. I can do stairs, but I don’t like doing stairs. Between my arthritis and the suitcase I dropped on my foot ten years ago, it hurts my feet, my knees, and my pride. I don’t want to do it multiple times a day anymore.

Which is the basis for our latest project. We’re adding a downstairs master bedroom to our house, where we already have more room than any two people need. Based on construction estimates, we hope to be alive to witness the project’s completion. Ninety days for brick and four months for windows are not promising indicators; I’ll let you know when you can come over and inspect the new room. Get your 2024 calendar out.

I’m trying not to get too excited about it, given the time frame. Still, I can’t help being tantalized by the prospect of going back to change my earrings without climbing those pesky stairs again.

My son is a paramedic. He and his colleagues, he assures me, often pick up women my age at the bottom of stairs. Seems to me it’s a good idea to stay on the ground floor.

We’ve had plans drawn that offer additional perks, not the least of which is that my husband and I will no longer be sharing a closet. This makes my heart sing. Even though he has generously ceded far more than half of the closet to me, it’s not enough. I dream of being able to hang my clothes, rather than what I think of as filing them. The rods in my closet are reminiscent of a file cabinet that someone forgot to clean out at year-end. My arthritic shoulder struggles to shove the clothes over far enough to create space for anything new.

When my husband saw the plans for his very own closet, he demurred.

“There’s no way I need that much closet space,” he said.

I assured him that it wasn’t a problem and that he could count on me to fill any space he couldn’t. What are loving spouses for, after all?

There are so many questions. Do we need a bathtub? Neither of us has taken a bath since 2006. What about resale, though? How many mirrors are really necessary in a closet? How many shoe racks do we actually need? Can I get one of those free-standing units they use at rehab to hold straps? It would be perfect for necklaces and scarves.

Granddaughter Bryce, age seven, recently created a floorplan for her dream bedroom, and she didn’t even consider a closet or a bathroom. Her room includes a pool with a separate hot tub, a massage chair, and a bed with a slide. There is a headband station, a Pop It station, and a nail painting station that includes pedicure chairs. My goodness. I never considered having stations.

Perhaps age-and-stage-appropriate stations are in order. An orthopedic station for knee braces, ace bandages, and ice packs might be handy. I could have a pharmaceutical station, with daily meds as well as extraneous OTCs like Advil and Tums. I actually think a margarita station might be nice, particularly if it included chips and salsa. Maybe even queso.

Bryce made a space to store her mermaid tails and threw in a dessert table and a petting zoo, so I think she’s well ahead of me planning-wise. I know I need a place to sit to put on my tennis shoes, but I can’t think of anything else. She plans a secret hatch that goes to her brother’s room, but I can’t imagine where I would want mine to go. I clearly need to work on my creativity.

It’s interesting to think about how living spaces have evolved since my childhood. Giant closets hadn’t even been imagined in the 60s, and spacious bathrooms were yet to be. King-sized beds were the very latest thing, but my parents’ bedroom barely accommodated theirs. I shared a bathroom with three siblings, and my dream bedroom at the time would have been one in which my little sister didn’t live with me. My closet had sliding doors and a single rod. Tiny as it was, it was still bigger than the closet in my freshman dorm room at SMU. I think we all did a better job of curating our wardrobes in those days.

I’m told there’s a closet in a house in Dallas that defies belief. Bigger than the average four-bedroom home, it occupies two levels and is fitted with racks like the ones at the dry cleaners. You just push the button and wait for the outfit you want to wear to come around. I would need some kind of system to remind me of my options; even with my little closet, I occasionally lose something for a season or two.

There are actually some pretty spectacular closets right here in Texarkana. Though I’ve seen some of them with my own eyes, I’ve only heard tales about others. One of my favorites has a huge worktable in the center. Kind of like an island in the kitchen, it gives you a place to put your suitcase while you’re packing or your clothes when you’re cleaning out the closet. Genius.

While we’re on the subject of cleaning out the closet, I have to confess that my last thorough closet cleansing was during the first week of the COVID lockdown. I used to do it regularly, taking everything out and putting it on the bed and then dusting every shelf and vacuuming every corner. Lately, it seems like the burst of energy that gets me started gives out right about the time I get the bed covered with clothes. I take a break, returning at bedtime to find there’s no bed to get into. The closet island would solve this problem nicely, don’t you think? Unfortunately, we aren’t planning on enough square footage to accommodate it. I guess it will have to remain, like a Pop-It station, a dream.

My mother once had a friend whose builder sent a cabinet designer to look at her kitchen and then design cabinetry around what it contained. Any designer who inventoried my closet and bathroom would no doubt call in sick the next day, and resign the next. I’m thinking that a good starting place for me, in fact, is the discard pile.

This isn’t going to be easy.


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