The key sits loosely in its lock, unturned, unnecessary. In a neighborhood where children drift from one house to the next with the freedom of wind-tossed leaves and women freely borrow milk or sugar from unattended kitchens, no one locks a closet.
In this neighborhood, closets hold no treasure – no jewels, no gold, no banded stacks of bills. They overflow with life’s necessities: shoes tidied into original boxes, purses and shirts, a wardrobe of ties. Now and then, two closets nestle side by side. Hers is obvious, all ajumble with boxes of quilting scraps, extra pillows, photographs and report cards. His, more intentional, arranged with more precision, is a purposeful array of hunting vests, stamp paraphernalia, drafting tools and gun cases. It’s a perfect marriage of closets.
Dimly lit and cave-like, the closets are mysterious, compelling and sancrosanct. Few children dare enter them without permission, but in these weeks before Christmas a child might be tempted to cross the bounds of caution by the merest whisper of possibility: “There might be presents…”
It’s a special kind of hide-and-seek, this business of children seeking out what parents have hidden - under the bed, in the basement, on those out-of-the-way shelves behind the washer. And always, the list of potential gift caches is crowned by the best hiding-place of all - a parent’s bedroom closet. (more…)