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Essays by Karen Anderson: My Grandparents' House

Illustration by Kacie Brown

When I can’t sleep, I go back to my grandparents’ house and open the front door. There was no vestibule so you walked right into the living room. The coat closet had a stained glass window in blue and gold and lilac.

You see, I know that place by heart—and can still stand in each room and picture the furnishings. As a child, I spent a lot of time there and it was a refuge from the chaos and confusion of my own home.

Looking back, I realize it was a modest house but it seemed huge to me. Huge and calm and welcoming. In the living room, I sat on the couch with Grandpa and listened to him read poetry—long before I could understand it. I liked the way the words made music.

In the dining room, our family gathered for special meals—and Nanna always told us children, “Don’t eat any more than you want.” Which meant you could take an extra biscuit and not finish it.

It meant you had permission to be yourself—something I didn’t feel anywhere else. Permission to sit on the floor of the coat closet in the dark and feel safe—watching the light come through the colored glass.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.