I loved my grandparents' little house on Shriver Avenue. I loved it from the front entryway to the varnished, creaking, wooden steps that led to the big, bright basement. I loved the portrait of my mother in her wedding dress that hung in the living room. I loved to linger in the hall studying all the small photos of Aunt Helen's graduating class at her nursing school in Chicago. I loved the small telephone nook in the hallway where they really did keep their telephone. I loved my Aunt Joanne's flowery, feminine bedroom in the back of the house where the vanity skirt matched the window curtains. I loved my grandma's big, dark bedroom where she kept her treadle sewing machine. I loved the basement where my grandpa's bed was tucked in a cozy corner, and where a swing hung from the rafters for us grandchildren.
It wasn't that my grandma's house was comfy and warm and welcoming; that was never the case. I loved it there because it was clean and bright and it smelled good - all things that made it totally different from our house. Everything had a place, and it was in that place, and that was oddly comforting to me. I knew that even though months might go by between our visits, the bisque ladies with their frilly petticoats would still be standing atop the big radio in the living room, flanking the portrait of my grandma with her arms around my Aunt Joanne, her youngest (and favorite) daughter.
I knew, most importantly, that the bathroom would be clean and bright, and that the curtains on the bathroom window would be lightly starched, with their tiny pansies lined up in orderly rows. Not to be indelicate, but many was the time I sat on the toilet there and just gazed at those curtains. They were so unlike anything in my own home. I loved how the pansies were so neat and predictable in their little rows. I loved the white shade on the window, its crocheted pull at the end of the cord the first I had ever seen. It was cool and quiet in my grandma's bathroom, and I was always allowed to close the door - something that wasn't permitted at home.
I got to thinking about all this the other day when I was in my own little bathroom. Oh, it's nothing like my grandma's, really, but it is clean and bright, although on hot summer days I prefer to keep it cool and dark. I don't have flowered curtains at my window, of course, but if I did, why, then it would be perfect.