From the Family Album. When I was little, my grandparents had a holiday home up in the hills. I remember it being wooden and rustic, close to nature. Goats were very often saying hello through the fence and eating whatever was in their sight. My dad would chase them away with a broomstick. It was sad, I liked the goats. The driveway was steep and i often thought one day our car will roll down the hill. Somehow we made it every time and the holiday could begin. I can't remember how old I was. I also don't recall what exactly were we doing there. The house in itself was a mystery to explore but I can't quite think of anything that happened outside of it. Maybe it was a different dimension. The house in the hills took an unassuming name of The Quiet Corner. Can't argue with that. I used to be afraid of upstairs and downstairs. As one should be, it's only reasonable. Afraid and intrigued at the same time as if some unknown force was pulling me in these directions. The house had a lot of hidden corners and the aura of mystery surrounded few rooms in particular. There are large parts of it that are completely erased from my mind but for some reason I remember the way the sun was shining through the blinds into my parents' room. It was orange, warm and full of hope. My mum was unpacking.
In the room where me and my brother used to sleep, hung a portrait of Virgin Mary that was yet another unsettling reason to be afraid of the dark. I think it was an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Strange, now when I think about it, since I can't remember anyone being particularly religious on that side of the family. I often thought the portrait moved. I would challenge myself to stare right at it in the dark but I could never catch it moving, only with the corner of my eye. In life, I would often make myself do things that I didn't find particularly pleasant, like biting metal objects or scraping fingernails across the wall. I don't know why that is, was I trying to prove myself or push my limits? I believe there is a special name for it in the Holy Book of Neurodiversity. It certainly took me places and enriched my human experience with a new perspective. I believe it's the same force that sometimes calls me to jump off the cliff just out of curiosity. Back at the time it was only a blinking Virgin Mary.
In the basement there was a boiler, hidden behind a black velvet curtain. I'm not sure which one of us came up with the idea that the devil lived there. I mean, of course he did, who else would pick a black velvet curtain? I was seduced by the dark underground where both the boiler and the devil had their home. It was scary and exciting at the same time. I would be very sad to see it today and learn that the devil has moved out. All the better these are the places I can no longer visit. The surreal memories are left safe and unspoiled for eternity. Wait...how did I even know who the devil was? The timeline of my memory is blurry and cannot be trusted.
I remember once we were in the room with the bar. It was shaped like a barrel with a knob in a form of devil's head. Devils and holy images, I knew early on what to pay attention to. I was always fascinated by adults' magical potions kept in beautiful bottles of different shapes and sizes. I was mesmerized by the colorful reflection in the mirror placed behind the various liquors. A collection of alcoholic poisons was apparently something one had to maintain and take pride in. I was happy enough exploring the colorful and shiny landscape of the glass containers. Suddenly, one afternoon, everyone decided to leave. It was like an awkward end to a modern play when you wonder if it's time for an applause. They only left to the terrace, with their drinks helping them smile. I found myself completely alone, with a weird buzz in my ears, scared and abandoned. I remember I sat in the box - for some reason there was a carton box on the floor - and closed my eyes, hoping that nothing bad was going to happen to me. One of the survival rules of childhood - as long as you keep your eyes closed, nothing can hurt you. After what felt like eternity, someone finally came back for me. Why was there a box on the floor? Why did they leave? If there is a God, these are the questions I will ask him.
Back in the holiday house I remember one mysterious room of a very strange energy at the top of the staircase. We loved hanging out there cause it was away from everyone and very quiet. I think we very quickly learnt that the fun happens away from the adults. It was difficult for me to climb there, since the staircase wasn't built up - it had an empty space between the steps. It seemed like as a child I had many creative ways to freak myself out, Of course, I imagined the empty space sucking me in and making me fall from the height. It must have been some form of vertigo working together with the creepiness of the place. I think from the very early days my brother was teasing and challenging me whenever I was afraid of something. I was constantly trying to be like him, so I was following whatever he was up to. Climbing these stairs was one of those challenges. He could easily use it to mess around with me. The room was supposed to be a guest room, but no one ever stayed there. I vaguely remember a distant cousin who occupied it during a very brief visit. Other than that it stayed empty, filled with silence and animal skins. You know, the kind you throw in front of the fireplace. My whole family seemed to be into this sort of things. It was on the top floor, right under the roof. I was terrified of it and I didn't want to go there, also because the steps weren't solid, but you could see through them. I often could feel weird charge in the empty rooms but nothing supernatural ever happened to me to say I could see ghosts.
Parents were always somehow next to all this, I never understood why they weren't too freaked out or why they didn't seem to notice these things. Were they not aware or was it the thing they decided to ignore in their lives until they completely forgotten or until the myth died, not being fed. Maybe for the better, if they understood what kind of strange thoughts and interests occupied our minds, they might have been more persistent in weeding them out. For parents who were pretty strict and protective, they let us run around quite a bit. I think they assumed my brother was responsible for me and he had to take upon himself that role of a little adult. With time this and a lot of other dynamics occurred to me as rather odd. At that moment it was the whole of reality. This theory could explain why my brother grew bitter towards me. It never really crossed my mind until now.
As we were growing up, we were visiting the mysterious house in the hills less and less, until it became just a childhood memory. My grandparents redecorated it to more modern standards and sold it shortly after. There was no more house in the hills, just a shadow of what once was a mysterious place full of magic and adventures. There were few yellowed pictures of us playing in the pool on the terrace. I was so little, I'm surprised I can remember anything.
I had an interesting perception as a child. I would hear buzzing or wake up in the middle of the night seeing everything grainy and strange, with a high pitch sound in my ears. I would also cover the mirrors for the night - or make myself look into them in the dark. Maybe we stop being afraid of the dark because we simply can't see as much in it as we used to. I think it has changed over the years, covered with the ideas of what we're supposed to be in the world. We notice less and less, our attention span becomes shorter and we lose a general sense of wonder and enchantment. The deeper I dig in my memory the more I find the signs of some primal weirdness I took with me everywhere I went. What we call the real world and society makes us forget these hints of magic from the early days. I used them intuitively to help me survive the worst of times but then I put it aside. Not for long, as these little droplets of wonder, not unlike annoying fairies kept reminding me of their existence. I had to go back to find them and when I did, I made an oath to preserve my personal magic. I made a conscious effort in my life to bring back that way I used to look at the world. I believe that it's not lost. I think that everyone has it in them. I begun to listen to this little voice again, the voice that leads me on the most curious paths. The world appears as if seen for the first time again.