Some things were not quite right about my childhood – the garage wasn't one of them.
I have always been fascinated with garages. Maybe it is because they leave so much to be desired.
When I was a kid, my friends and I transformed garages into playhouses, theaters, and even carnivals. We created places to have secret club meetings and haunted houses.
These days, I hardly ever see children playing in garages. I suppose they're out surfing the web, playing video games or at soccer practice. I think they are missing out.
When people leave their garage doors open, I cannot help craning my neck to see the array or, on the contrary, disarray of stuff. When I do, it's as though I am seeing inside a person's life.
I think I can tell a lot about people by the way they keep their garages. Some garages are plumb full. You could not fit your big toe inside if you tried. Those garage owners probably don't have high blood pressure. Most likely, they are laid back and hardly fuss. If they cannot find what they need in the garage, they figure they'll find it later or go out and buy a new one.
The other type of garage, the kind that makes my heart throb, is very well-organized. These people tend to be uptight and know right where everything is. [Circuit tester? Bottom right side of the pegboard on the left.]
Inside their garages is an imperturbable realm, where garage dwellers tinker and toy all hours. The sound of "Oldies" reverberate from speakers hoisted in the corners, life-sized posters of heroes and heroines keep company with an impressive collection of license plates that plaster the walls.
Stunningly well-kept, these garages look more like living rooms with their painted concrete floors. They usually have a TV or two, folding table and chairs, a fridge, maybe some vintage cupboards and special lighting. Vehicles are parked in the driveway or on the street.
Our garage is an adventure for me. I could spend hours sweeping, sorting, rearranging and organizing. Although, the place stays that way for only a few days and then somehow it returns to its former undone self.
I asked my husband to designate half of the garage just for me. We would draw a line right down the middle with one side his and the other side all mine.
My side of the garage would have pegboards with hooks to hold all sorts of stuff. Everything would be in its place with room to spare. My side would have a tidy workbench, where I would build birdhouses, repair furniture and spray-paint baskets.
A florescent light would hang from above and an FM radio would chime in the background. It would have a heater for when there's a chill in the air and a fan for when temperatures rise. I would have a mini-fridge for ice water and a hot plate for tea. Stringing patio lights around my side would be a nice touch, don't you think?
Oh, yeah … it would be my garage space from heaven and I imagine myself spending a lot of time out there. I suppose that's why he has not agreed to this, yet.
You can see why the garage is a final frontier for me. It's where I am buffered from life's woes, cast the standard-bearers of day-to-day life to the wind and contemplate what could be.
In my garage resides an unadulterated space, where I, once again, am cleansed and made whole. Memories of things left undone or things gone wrong would not follow me there.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place statewide. To contact Paula, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2010© Paula Damon