I open the attic door and begin my ascent up the ancient staircase. The boards creak and moan beneath me as I make my way to the top. As I rise, so does the temperature and I feel the perspiration seep out of the pores on the back of my neck. I roll down my shirt sleeve and wipe my arm across my damp forehead. I breathe a sigh of relief when I finally reach the top stair, appreciating why I had not attempted this expedition before I’d lost 250 pounds. I am sure it would have resulted in a stop, drop and roll which had nothing to do with fire!
As I stand at the top looking around, struggling to catch my breath I slowly turn my head from side to side, observing the room around me. It is as though I have stepped out of a time machine and back to the life I’d had before my battle with food and alcohol. My eyes began to adjust to the muted tones of grays and black and I notice the single light bulb hanging from a wire in the center of the very warm and stifling space. I reach for the chain pull it and as the light snaps on the room seems to come to life. My eyes land upon the exquisite Gibson guitar which rests in the corner. I can see myself sitting on my bed as a teenager plunking away on the strings trying to play along to the records that blared from the tiny speakers of my RCA phonograph. To my right, I see the drafting table that I had so diligently saved my pennies to purchase. Upon it sits a sizable box filled with colored pencils, charcoal, brushes and poster paint, along with a stack of sketch books and drafting paper. I was, at one time, planning to be a cartoonist and work for Walt Disney, inventing wonderful characters that would one day come to life upon the big screen. Beneath the table lay tennis racquets and golf clubs and I gasped just a little, when I spotted my red and faded leather baseball glove lying there on the floor. This was the same glove that had led my high school softball team to four straight regional championships with me on the mound. My red and white varsity jacket hung upon the wall above it, covered in a clear, thin sheath of plastic, the hard earned awards and medals still shiny underneath. I glanced around and saw the empty notebooks and journals whose pages had turned yellow while waiting for my imagination to bring them to life.
I stood there feeling empty and melancholy, in a room full of broken dreams, distraught over the demise of all these hopes and aspirations. I grieved for all I had given up and thrown away because I had permitted food to take over and rule my life. The room began to feel like a purgatory of sorts…a place where time stood still and nothing ever changed. All of the cherished relics from my past seemed to lay there staring at me, still waiting for their chance to shine. I hung my head in utter sadness as I reached up and pulled the chain, leaving them all in gloomy darkness once again. A tear fell from the corner of my eye as I headed for the staircase. I stopped for just a moment and paused to look at the old six string sitting there in the corner. I walked over and lifted it protectively into my arms. I slipped the worn out plastic pick from between the strings as my fingers slid quite naturally into a c-chord position and I gently strummed the magnificent instrument. The tone was rich and clear and I couldn’t help but grin as I bent to set it back in the corner. I held on to it though and thought….perhaps this old guitar, like myself, still has a song or two left in it. Maybe all it needed was someone who cared enough to listen. With that, I smiled and nodded to myself as I slipped my arm through the strap and slung it over my shoulder and onto my back, feeling much like an 80’s rock star. I stuck the pick in my pocket and headed joyfully down the stairs.