I remember baby blue stairs. It was a color that was simultaneously garish and soft. Garish because it clashed horribly with the moderate browns and conservative whites of my grandmother’s quiet neighborhood. Soft because it reminded me of the ascending sky on a summer’s day. I remember accompanying my parents to the store, their hands enveloping mine, hypnotized by paint swatches. I got lost in the swimming colors and possibilities while my mom and dad made their choice. I got lost in the swirling paint as they repeatedly dipped their paintbrushes. Stroke and stroke and stroke and dip. What was once natural became artificial as the wood was covered by coat after coat of blue. I remember stretching out under the shade as my parents labored under the hot sun to paint, not an artistic masterpiece, but to protect a set of stairs. Over the years, the various forces of nature would chip away at their hard work. The blue was marred and scraped and gashed, at the mercy of the driving rain or an equally temperamental set of children, my sister and me. Then, one day, I no longer lived in my grandmother’s house. The car pulled away from the pavement where my grandma stood waving and the stairs glowed under the moon’s light. The family who lived there next, impermanent renters, painted the stairs a dark maroon red, a supposedly stylish color that reminded me of blood. But I still remember the baby blue. Blue like a never-ending childhood.
My bed was not mine. Shared between my sister and I, she got the convenience of the bottom bunk while I got the light of the only window in the room. I woke up with the streaming sun across my blankets. I woke up before everyone else except my grandmother. I saw her from my perch, quietly eating her bread and drinking her milk at the kitchen sink. Her hair was fine, white, and thin. Like feathers, they seemed to float in the light. Like a beacon, it drew my eye to her. She stood in the small enclave with her back toward me. I was never sure if she heard the rustle of the comforter as I shifted back and forth. We existed in the morning semi-silence together and alone. We never spoke, too afraid to wake the others. I hope she wasn’t lonely. I never was. I watched her careful movements and was lulled back, back into sleep.
The garage was a steady walk from the house. There, the ghosts of past endeavors lay on abandoned shelves. My dad’s fishing pole and plastic tackle box now rested far from the beach shores. My mother’s high school textbooks gathered dust in the shadow of a red gasoline container. She explained to me, as we cleared the boxes, that she had hoped to use those books again. She had photocopied every page. But my sister and I were in college now and she was a computer engineer, readying for retirement. So, the books joined the growing pile of recycling. I am not even sure what happened to the fishing pole. The garage was the last place to be emptied in what used to be my grandmother’s house. The bunk bed had already been disassembled. The sink had been cleaned and scrubbed. Only the stairs remained, as we backed out of the driveway, one last time.