10 January- Cleaning out an attic

In the upstairs of my house we have a small toilet which my sister painted a light mint green five and a half years ago. In that toilet, we keep two items: a wooden pole that is about three feet long and has a rust-covered hook on the end of it and a piece of worn laminate boarding that has the look of faux pine. These two objects grant whoever picks them up access to a land of mysteries, adventure and danger: the attic which lays just beyond the white trapdoor in the ceiling next to the toilet.

Not our attic, but one that was about as cluttered as ours.

Tonight, my dad pulled the trapdoor down using the pole with the rust-covered hook on the end of it. He yanked the ladder down, placing its feet carefully on the piece of faux-pine laminate floor boarding so as not to mark the carpet underneath it. Then he and I spent forty minutes bringing piece after piece of furniture out of the attic and began to pile it along the corridor of our house. It marked the beginning of the process of cleaning out the attic.

Attics can be used for various things. Bedrooms. Living Rooms. Kitchens. Music Studios. Photography Studios. Artistic Studios. A room for toys. A room for writing in. A room for lying in. A chemist’s laboratory. An astronomer’sv observatory. A spy’s headquarters. Attics have potential for all of us. I use ours as a time machine. As they begin to be re-visited and re- examined, I’m brought face to face with objects that have the clearest of memories for me and which I haven’t touched in years upon years. A yellow submarine which I used as an occasional spaceship or a notebook that I scrawled in at the age of seven or a cricket ball that I threw with sweaty hands when I was thirteen and wanting desperately to be better at sport.

The objects that are contained within attics take us back to when we were different people- children or teenagers or grown ups. They pop up again in our lives and ask us to remember who we once were. The objects of attics bring us face to face with our previous selves in a sudden and shocking way- in a way that makes you question whether you want to see much of this previous person.

My parents are moving from Dudley to Stoke on Trent, so the attic has to be cleared. That means the endless biology textbooks my sister and I have collected over the years have to be removed from the attic and carted away. The contents of the attic are now spewed across our house, leaving all these memories open and welcome to injury. Tonight, my sister picked up a poem that I’d written when I was younger about some curtains. She started to read it but I snatched it away. It felt to cutting to hear the words of this boy I once knew being mocked. I guess that time travel isn’t always fun.

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