Whenever newcomers strolled down into my basement, their eyes would explore for a second before they would invariably become fixated on one spot in the room: a massive crater in the far wall, one they would humorously compare to the result of Superman heaving a villain against the rigid structure. I knew my friends wanted to hear a crazy story about its origins, but, in reality, that hole, along with the countless dents and scratches surrounding us, was simply a product of my two brothers and me spending countless hours in there throwing, catching, shooting, tackling. This was a place where we could be kids. Or animals. It’s hard to say.
Before my family moved out of the house, I decided to visit that room one last time. Looking around, I noticed none of the character that made it my basement. The hole in the wall was closed up and repainted. The cushions were finally off the ground. The duct tape pieces marking the yard lines on our mini football field were ripped off the floor. To a visitor, it would look great, the best shape it’s been in years. To me it looked foreign.
As I headed back to the stairs, I realized that I had left the lights on and allowed my hand to feel for the switch behind me. Instinctively, my fingers guided me to the corner of the square, the only part of the rectangular ceramic that was unaffected by our recklessness. Looking down, I realized my fingers had performed an unnecessary deed, for the switch was no longer barely functioning with a jagged scar down the middle but rather smooth, new.
Nonetheless, a calm suddenly came over me: the basement was gone, but in my head I still saw the cracked switch, the scuffmarks on the ceiling. I will still see a tennis ball zipping past my ear, ricocheting off the window as my brother finishes his swing behind me. I will leave this room behind, sure, but I don’t have to leave my memories behind as well. It can still be my basement.