The Marble

I love this time of day - waking up in a semi-daze in the late morning knowing the boys are at school and there is nothing urgent to do and nowhere to go. I lay in bed and let my mind drift. Most of the time I rehash things that are troubling me. Stress often takes over and I can't stay in a restful state for long, but every now and then my addled brain takes a detour down memory lane and I meander through well-worn territory.

Today my mind took me back to my grandmother's old Victorian in Hudson, NY. I've blogged about memories of her home before. Today I remembered a few things I don't think I've consciously thought about in decades. For one thing, her basement. I was too frightened to go into the basement, let me say first. So all my knowledge of the space is second hand. I remember my father telling me it had a very low ceiling and you had to stoop to walk around. The floor was packed earth and it always smelled like walking into an open grave. Yes. Creepy! It was very dark down there...the only light a bare bulb or two. I recall a coal chute opening outside the house and a double storm-cellar-door type opening in the rear of the house. I remember looking down the staircase that curved around a tight corner headed down into the dark from the kitchen. The unfinished walls in the stairway had open wood beams backed by raw plaster that had been converted into make-shift shelves. Jars, boxes, bulbs, tools...all sorts of odds and ends lined the staircase headed down into the gloom.

Why think about a space I was too frightened to enter? Well...I found myself thinking about the foundation of the house. Stacked stones with mortar added in decades later to try and block out wildlife and moisture. Great wood beams added to try and shore up what was slowly crumbling away. The house was leaning, you see. It was not really noticeable on the first floor, but on the second and third floors? Oh boy!

That thought about the sloping floor is what brought to mind the marble.

There was a whole bag of marbles in the beginning. They must have belonged to my Dad or his brother. Some were chipped and scratched, so they had obviously been well played with. They were beautiful! No one makes marbles like those anymore. You hear people talk about "cat's eye" marbles. There was one in the bag that was the actual semi-precious stone cat's eye. It was glossy with glowing layers of browns and golds. But that wasn't my favorite. Mine was a pale blue orb that seemed to glow with it's own light. It was completely crystal clear and fairly large.

My brother and I would have marble races in my aunt's old bedroom (the room we usually stayed in when visiting because of the two twin beds and day bed occupying the space.) We would set a couple marbles down by the door and watch them quickly roll away toward the front of the house. See? Sloped. It made us giggle! Kids making their own fun. What could be better?

I never used the pale blue marble for these races. I didn't want it to get scratched. That marble was the focus of a lot of daydreams. It became my crystal ball. I would stare into it and imagine it had magical properties. I could see the future! There were stories that ran through my did this magic crystal orb end up in a child's bag of marbles? I could sit here and write all day!

But let's skip ahead. My brother and I would often ask my grandmother if we could keep various things we'd found over the years. Sometimes she would say yes. Often she said no. I came away with a collection of old 45s that had belonged to my aunt, some books...however, she always said no when we asked if we could keep the marbles. I have no idea why.

So one visit, I pocketed the pale blue marble and took it home. I had to do it! It TOLD me to do it!

I know. It was a very naughty thing to do. I had that marble for years and years. I often kept it in my purse. Eventually it ended up in a keepsake box. I know I still have it. Somewhere.

So yes. I've been lying in bed thinking about a marble. My first crystal ball. I hope I find it one of these days.


Donna H. said…
You need to write a book! Maybe contine with this entry.... I didn't want it to end . I wouldn't have put the book down, Ugh, tell us more about what happened next ;)
Donna Howard
Donna. W said…
What an interesting memory!

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