The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 110

memories
AN ATTIC'S

This mom is itching to create a place to hold her family's history.

written and photographed by

CHRISTINA NIFONG

110

MAY/JUNE 2020

I FONDLY REMEMBER the attic of my childhood.
A set of wooden stairs led into a hot, cedar-smelling
expanse. The steps were cluttered with cleaning supplies.
I recall an ironing board hung on the wall.
But once the risers dissolved into a sea of plywood
boards, the everyday faded with them. The space - lit
by sunlight streaming through tall dormer windows and
shaped by a steeply sloped ceiling - was pure magic.
There were finely made dresses from the 1920s
hung on a metal rack. Tiny chests of my grandmother's
costume jewelry. Keepsakes from my mother's early life
in Panama. There were boxes and boxes of Christmas
decorations. My two siblings and I each had a section
to store whatever we'd shoveled out of our rooms when
ordered to clean them. This rambling open room held
the history of my grandparents, my mom and dad, my
two sisters and me.
Sitting on the dusty floor, peering into an unmarked
box felt like sifting through the archeological sands of
my own people.

It's an experience my children have never had.
We have an attic - with screened vents and steep
sides and itchy insulation and no floor. But the only
way to get to it is to push open a small panel while
standing atop a ladder in a tiny bathroom. I know this
only because every so often we peek inside to make sure
no squirrels or bats or mice took up residence there.
Which felt okay until about a year ago.
That's when my baby started middle school and my
oldest began making plans for college and I realized I
needed a place to put everything they were done with
but I was not.
All those teeny T-shirts from their elementary school
festivals. And necklaces made of dyed noodles. All the
plaster holding their hands at a fraction of the size they
are now. The picture books we read so many times we
can still recite them from memory.
There are the sports trophies and crafty picture
frames. That nativity set made from toilet paper tubes.
First shoes. Doll-sized sunglasses. And that dinosaur

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The Roanoker - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2020

The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover1
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The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover3
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