+WHAT SAFETY SMELLED LIKE WHEN I WAS A CHILD

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Being five years old – we left my grandma behind in Los Angeles when we moved to Alaska summer 1957:

I have always remembered my grandmother’s large walk-through closet that seemed big as a bedroom to me.  I can feel the smooth curved edges of the cool glass of the knob I turned when I entered from her bedroom.  There were little windows high up on both closet doors that let in enough light during the day I could see my way to walk through from one end to the other.  I slid my feet slowly through the darkened wide isle of Grandmother’s clothes.  They hung around me on both sides.  I just barely touch the soft fabrics with my fingertips as I passed.

I arched my neck back so I could gaze toward the ceiling at rows of pretty round hat boxes stacked high on the shelves.  Down below her shoes were perched at strange angles from what I was used to, lined up neatly on shoe racks.  At the far end of the closet there were hooks on the walls.  On one side was a little wooden bench.  Her bathrobe hung at this end, her belts, even some long scarves and handbags.

I remember the smell of my grandmother stayed behind me in that room when I went out the other door into a long wide curved dim hallway painted dark shiny green on the bottom to just above the height of my eyes.   The ceiling was far above my head.  As I walked down it into her kitchen at the back corner of her house I thought about that mysterious room and about Grandma.

Grandmother carried her smell around with her, but in that closet there was so much Grandma smell I could breathe it in and breathe it out, in and out slowly and there was always more.  Tears flow down my cheeks as I write these words.  In the 18 years of my childhood I know that it was only in this place, in this amazing closet that I ever felt safe.

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