My favorite places are the small ones. The niches and crannies that I can fill just by being there. I’m never satisfied with anything unless I’ve filled it. Not a sheet of paper, not an empty glass, not a waiting hand. I have to fill the holes; it isn’t OCD, even though that’s how I pass it off with my friends. It’s obsessive, yes, and compulsive, yes, but there’s the fine line between those attributes and the disorder. I don’t have OCD. But I do have a need to fill what’s been left empty.
That’s why I love the forgotten spaces between larger spaces. It’s so easy to fulfill their filling, so easy to make them remembered. I curl into their condensed folds and twists and I tuck a book or a laptop or just my two hands into my lap and then I can gush. Did you know that if you sit admiring your own existence for long enough, your soul will start to swell, overflowing over the edges? I call it gushing. Sometimes I feel as if my soul is completely detached from my body, hovering in the air and taking oxygen’s place, so that I’m breathing me. An overwhelming sense of me. Take the time to breath in a bit of yourself here and there. It’s the best kind of refreshing.
I’ve tried to show others the magic of tiny places. I really have. But they don’t see it. Not even my sister, not even the only person on this planet who could claim she knows me as well as I do, she can’t see what I see when I look at the corner behind a giant armchair, a perfect little triangle shut out from the rest of the world. She sees a good hiding place, for hide and seek and such games. I see a good finding place, for confidence and individuality and such easily lost things.
“I knew I’d find you here,” she’ll say when the family is getting ready to go and no one knows where Alex is.
Part of me wants to believe she knew because she could feel me there, because there was more of me outside of my body than there normally is and she felt that. But I don’t think you know how to find overflowing souls until you’ve sent your own cascading over the brim. My sister is so emotionally brilliant, able to dim the appearance of her own vibrancy without suppressing any of it from who she is, and I think she would adore self-gushing in small places.
Maybe that isn’t something I can show her. Perhaps it has to be discovered. That would make sense. Gushing could be a synonym for self-discovery, and you can’t force discovery.
Of course, while all crannies have a place in my heart, there are a select few I’ve adopted as mine. These aren’t just nooks, they’re my nooks, my cracks in the wall, my small places. They could have been others’, but it’s too late, because I’ve fallen in love and won’t share.
My absolute favorite is at Theater 42, the home of Mason Community Players, my local theater group. We rent the building out, and have been doing so for the past few years now, making our own renovations and structures and stuff of the like. My sister likes it in the greenroom, where the couches are and the food can be hidden from invading fingers. By brother likes the audience space, where he can see everything from so many angles and run down the aisles if he wants to. My space is neither of those.
Our group built a staircase on the stage leading up to a balcony. Behind some curtains on the balcony is a ladder leading down to backstage. I like all of these things, especially dangling on the ladder, my feet kicking. But guess where my favorite spot is? It was a space I forgot had to exist until I was sitting in the car thinking about how awesome it was we’d made our own staircase as a permanent edition to the theater and then it just hit me…
Our staircase is hollow, isn’t it?
It is, indeed.
People have brown steel folding chairs stacked back there as a storage space. I push them aside to climb inside, then set them back in place behind me and and they make the fourth wall that shuts me, myself, and I into our own little world. That is my utopia. It’s dark, and it’s small, and it’s warm, and it has the crisp smell of wood, and it’s mine. Most of the time I can only stay for a few minutes, because I don’t want to people to go looking for me and find the place I call my own. But once, my father brought me to the theater so he could do construction outside. And it was empty. And I was in there for twenty, forty, eighty minutes, I don’t know. I could have sat there for hours. I could fold myself into that space and stay there forever. I mean, it’s a staircase. So it has it’s own corners and crevices. Crannies within a crannie. All to myself.
I don’t read here, not in this small space. I don’t write in this small space. I rarely listen to music in this small space. I just sit. That should be a class. We should be taught how to sit and not think. Thinking can get tiring, especially if you know how to use your brain. Your mind is a tool, and if you’re constantly keeping it at full speed…it’s not healthy. It’s not right. Your mind was meant to take breaks. You were meant to, occasionally, turn thinking off, when it gets too chaotic. You were meant to have mental settings other than “on” and “sleep.” You were meant to have the ability to gush. You were meant to have somewhere where you could do something magical.
They have many names. Nooks. Crannies. Corners. Cracks in the wall. Forgotten gaps in space. Small places. I don’t know which name is best. I only know that I was meant to have them.