tumblr_ma58izI8Yn1qasthro1_500Jonwayne is well on his way to having bronze statues built for him in the commonwealth.

“Mom, I think I’m so lucky.”

My 7 year-old self was folded onto the steps of the stairs in my grandparents’ home. As I’ve grown, I’ve decided to spend less and less time on stairs. In double digits, I assumed the comfort of the standard chair or couch, becoming an ambassador of all the giants who were so opposed to my love for stair life.

“Why are you so lucky, honey?” said my mom.
“Well, I’m just glad I’m able to play with color Lego’s.”
“What do you mean? What other kind of Lego’s are there?”
“All the kids in the 30’s and stuff had to play with black and white Lego’s”

This is when my mother had to explain that there was color in the world before the birth of the color TV. This also meant that my gratitude wasn’t towards the miraculous inclusion of the color spectrum so late in the game of Earth and that I was alive to take part in it’s duration, but simply that my Lego’s weren’t gray scale. Hmmm.

I think once you cease to have revelations like this through simple conversation with your family, you should probably stop playing on the stairs.

Maybe it was simply because my parents didn’t like me to be on them. Usually being the sole, narrow mode of transport between sections of a building, they usually weren’t the safest places to rest on your mental laurels. I did get hurt on steps, too. But kids aren’t too bright and I honestly didn’t give a shit.

A lot of my favorite memories are on the stairs. My brother and I would sit on the top stair and slide down, violently, on our butts. No reason. Just because.

Playing on the stairs was like throwing wet balls of paper towels on the wall of the school bathroom to make them stick or punching a kid that beat you in Street Fighter II in the chest: it was necessary part of growing up.

My grandparents and my mother would sing in the choir at the church I went to as a kid, therefore I spent the better part of services being with them. The balcony on which they sang was on the opposite side of the building to the alter, both serving as the top and bottom slices of bread in the spiritual sandwich (in which these people in the pews, given their faithfulness, weekly attendance and ability to shun fantasies starring their best friend’s 20 year old niece/nephew felt the indescribable joy of being eaten alive by the Lord).

Being shy of holy sandwich artists at this point in life, I wouldn’t often like to sit up with the choir, either. I found solace in the steps of the crowded, narrow stairs that felt so much like the ones at my house.

I remember the carpet was maroon with little blue dots. I was still innocent enough to not immediately liken the design to blots of mold in fresh blood, yet my favorite past time was to imagine each blue dot represented a stage in Mortal Kombat, in which my character (something that looked like a left hand) was to endure an onslaught of worthy opponents (whom all resembled something of a right hand). Don’t underestimate the power of a child’s mind. I was able to contort my hand into a massive variety of shapes to represent different characters. The one that worked best was Goro, with his multiple arms. I rarely was bored.

All this time I was being creative on the steps, I was listening to the somber and swelling emotions of traditional Russian and Serbian tones and pieces, performed by a crowd of 30 or more just a few feet from where I was playing. Whether I knew it then or not, the way the songs made me feel set me on a lifelong path to bathe my brain in similar deep, helpless pools of melancholy through the musical exploration I’ve obsessed over since.

And honestly, I don’t think I would’ve payed any attention if my hands weren’t battling to the death.

Let your kid play on the stairs.

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