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When I was eight and the world was still as bright and shiny as the brand-new quarter that my uncle used to pull from behind my ear, my parents and I took our first road trip to grandmother’s house in Illinois. Of course, I had seen thousands, millions of trees and cows, and fields. They would not let up. I was getting so sick of the sight of all that nature that I took to staring at the asphalt with its neatly drawn white or yellow lines, but asphalt can make a person a little tetchy, woozy, and dizzy. It can mesmerize if one is not careful. But when we pulled up at the grandmother’s, I felt excitement of the first time. The house itself with its sloped-non-Texas-flat-backyard visible even from the driveway, and, at second glance, some foreign object that had landed on the roof, almost screamed fun.
The house turned out to be splendid indeed and promised to occupy me for days, weeks, maybe even absorb me entirely so that I would never have to leave. Perched smack dab thing in the middle of the living room was a staircase. This was not just any straight, put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other staircase, but a winding one that seemed to curve all the way to the heavens. Its steps, naturally, were not uniform: some places were giant-wide; others were teensy-tiny, built just for fairies that tiptoe, whose fairy feet- as everyone knows- barely touch the earth. The grandest part of it all was the railing, which slithered like a serpent, twisting and turning, curling its way out of sight. It was just waiting for a little boy like me to hop on the polished wood, sideways, not daring to straddle its wildness, and careen down three flights, letting out war whoops along the way. Yes, I had found a new friend. A final mystery was the balconies, little bits of sky where the precious memories could be made, souvenirs for my mind. I played with the assortment of father’s old toys; count single stars and then having lost track of my numbers I had to start all over again and so on. The house was truly unique.