So, I thought it was a secret passageway. Understandable, really. It was a small door, out of the way, unnoticed by grown-ups, but saved you from having to go down the stairs, which was both cool and practical. Plus, Grant’s head would definitely fit. It led to an entirely different part of the house, and if all my living vicariously through Nancy Drew had taught me anything, it was that a small, out of the way door that leads to somewhere else can only be a secret passageway.
The most important part of having a secret passageway, however, was having a little brother to test it out. There was no way I was going to get into the secret passageway first. It was reckless, it was dangerous, and it was a good thing I didn’t, because the secret passageway was actually the laundry chute.
So I convinced Grant that he should get in there instead.
We were mid-shove, with Grant’s feet dangling down over the washing machine on the floor below, when I heard heavy steps on the stairs, and a throat clearing noise that was halfway between shock and “Oh no you don’t!”
“Young lady,” you said, looking very stern. “Why is your brother in the laundry chute?”
“Oh he’s not,” I responded cheerfully, as I prepared to give Grant a final push. “He’s in the secret passageway.”
“We don’t have a secret passageway,” you told me, which I knew, because you had told me repeatedly throughout my childhood that we didn’t have a secret passageway, but I was determined to find one anyway. What can I say – Nancy was constantly finding them! You can’t blame a girl for trying.
“This is a door for dirty laundry to go through,” you continued as you got down on your knees and pulled Grant out. “And we do not put our brothers through that door. Understood?”
“I understand,” I said, sad that you had scolded me.
I was also sad that my dreams for a secret passageway had been dashed again. You have always been my fellow adventurer, so part of me was surprised that you were averse to the idea of the secret passageway. It’s only now that I’m much older do I realize that a love of adventure – even the childhood, backyard, made-up kind – was always trumped, quickly and immediately, by your love for us. Every ramble around the block, every afternoon spent crashing through bushes or climbing on trees, was always under your supervision. You let us play and be wild and creative, but you were also always right there, just in case.
So I grabbed a blanket, a snack, and a Nancy Drew and headed out under the trees to live vicariously through my favorite adventurer for just a few more hours. Meanwhile, my other favorite adventurer looked safely on from the back porch. Just in case.