After Mike Grosso stole my fear of heights, I was at a loss. I’m a brave woman! What other fear could I possibly share? And then yesterday, our furnace broke.
I love my house. It was built in 1903, so it oozes character. (Note: This is code for drafty.) We’ve got huge pocket doors, high ceilings, a great front porch. I’ve lived here for eleven years and lived through two renovations. But I’ve never been in the basement. Not. One. Time.
I don’t “do” basements.
Now, I’ve seen your Midwestern and New England basements, with their comfy sectionals and wall-to-wall carpeting. This is not a Memphis basement. Memphis basements flood and entomb the bodies of trapped yard rodents. (This is true. My husband found a squirrel skeleton one spring.)
I grew up in an old house similar to mine. My parents “finished” the basement, which just means they painted the chipped concrete floor a creepy, bloodstain red. You had to pass a three-foot tall crawl space on the way down the stairs. Whenever our cats meandered back there, they emerged days later, dusty and with a haunted look in their eyes. The washer and dryer were in the basement. I washed my clothes as seldom as possible.
My husband and I owned a house before this one. I managed to brave that basement just once, during the house inspection. It was a place of nightmares, I tell you. Old pipes wrapped in asbestos and an ancient boiler that ate babies. So you understand why, when the furnace repairman came yesterday, I showed him the exterior entrance (this makes it even worse) and told him the same thing I do anyone who needs access to the underworld beneath my house. “The stairs are that way. You can find me in the kitchen.”
But—sigh—I will attempt to be a grown-up and face this fear. I figure two minutes is plenty of time down there, right? Then, as long as I never move, I won’t have to do it again.
|Moriah McStay grew up in Memphis, TN, where she acquired a come-and-go drawl and a lifelong love of cowboy boots and fried pickles. She attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Two graduate degrees and seven jobs later, she finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is her first novel, and she’s probably at home right now working on another one.