The Cave

Our house in Colorado (where we lived from 1986 until 1992) was a split-level ranch with a living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and three bedrooms upstairs. Downstairs had a family room with weird grayish wood paneling and BRIGHT-ASS RED carpet, a black and white and red half bath, a laundry room, and a room that, when we moved in, became a playroom.

Ginny and I were spoiled beyond belief and had assloads of toys when we were kids, so it was cool to have a whole room just for playing. One of the coolest things about the playroom was the cave. No one else we knew had a cave in their house.

The cave was sort of a crawl space under the stairs. It’s hard to describe. It was a rectangle-shaped area (under the landing at the front door of the house) with a square entrance where we could both sit when we were little, and a smaller “room” off to the right (under the sloping part of the stairs). Sometime after we moved in, Mom painted the inside of the cave with a blue night sky and yellow and white stars and a moon and our names, and there was a scrap of carpet in there to cover the unfinished concrete floor.

It was a terrible hide-and-seek place because it was the first place anyone would look. A much better hiding place was in the blanket closet under the other flight of stairs, on the upper shelf between the blankets and pillows. Until it was discovered that we hid there, it was the best place of all. Worst hiding place: inside the washing machine, SAMANTHA.

Inside the cave was a good place to take a pillow and a flashlight and read a book. The little room under the stairs on the right was a good place to have a Cabbage Patch Kids nursery. More often than not, though, the cave (with a sheet covering the entrance) was where we threw all our shit when we were forced to clean the playroom. Our millions of toys would sit in a pile in there until we were then forced to clean the cave, which was horrible because there was nowhere else to hide our stuff so what were we supposed to DO?

Once upon a time, we found a frog outside and put it in our aquarium with the fish upstairs to live there. The frog disappeared overnight and we figured the dog or one of the cats had eaten it. A long, long time later, on one of our forced cave-cleaning ordeals, we found a perfectly preserved frog skeleton. Evidently he’d made it to the cave and died in there with our toys.

Shortly before Jamie was born, my parents converted the playroom into a fourth bedroom for me. They took out the blue indoor/outdoor carpeting and the weird wallpaper and replaced it with an explosion of white and lilac so it was pretty much my dream room at that point. Weirdly, I don’t really have any memories of the cave after that. It was still there, and we must have still used it somehow, but I don’t remember anything about it.

A couple of years later, we moved away, and the girl who would get my room was about my age. I wonder if they ever repainted the cave, or if years and years from now someone will see it and wonder who Lorie and Ginny were.

7 Replies to “The Cave”

  1. Aww, what a fun story. :)

    When I was a kid, I didn’t have a cave, but for some freak reason I always played under the coffee table in the living room. I’m beginning to think that kids just love having smaller “hidden” spaces to enjoy themselves, regardless if it’s up in a tree, under the stairs, whatever. Anyway, I don’t know or remember if my parents realized what was happening, but I used to take my crayons and markers and color the underside of the coffee table. (My brothers on the other hand, would chuck jello to the ceiling and color the walls.)

    I sometimes think about that coffee table and wish I had it.

  2. this is a gorgeous entry, and man–the layout of your house was JUST LIKE MINE when i was a kid.

    aside from the fact that we didn’t have theCave–ours was just the creepy “crawlspace.”

  3. Amy, I used to play under the coffee table too. My mom still has the same coffee table in her living room. Now when I look at it I wonder how I fit under there, much less was comfortable enough to play there.

  4. a)i totally remember hiding in the washing machine now

    b)i also remember being very very very scared of that cave, it seemed dark and dank and full of bugs, kinda like a real cave. but that’s just my 4 year old brain working i suppose

  5. What i said was… I heart the cave. Remember when mom helped sammi hide in a kitchen cabinet behind some dishes… That? was a great hiding spot.

    The best was the day after cleaning the cave. Everything was all organized and had a place, like in the Berenstain Bears “The Messy Room”… sigh… I wanna be a kid again. Our childhood did pretty much rock.

  6. Holy crow! A frog skeleton. That’s…well, it’s creepy, but in that fascinating sort of way.

    We used to crawl back in the rain drain that ran from the creek out back beneath the houses and to the street out front. That idea grosses me out now, but it was cool in its day.

    Lord. I discovered this past holiday season that the crawl space beneath my parents’ stairs still has the crazy shag carpet that was in there when we moved in, circa January 1978. (How did they weave together four shades of equally vomitous browns? And why?) I’m really tempted to cut a sample and send it off for analysis. The mite ratio must be off the charts.

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