I have a secret workout weapon and I bet you do too.
Mine allows me to surround myself with cool memories while I work up a great, shaky-muscle kind of sweat. It’s just an old stairwell, but, since we bought the house I grew up in, it’s been mine for nearly 50 years.
At least once a week during this endless pandemic, I have replaced my gym elliptical workout with a session on my basement stairs. That old fashioned stairmaster workout gets my poor heart beating, and not just due to the cardio exercise (though, trust me, it’s a really good, deceptively simple workout).
My path up and down those dusty old stairs takes me past a glorious collection of graffiti I’ve written about before. Starting with my own 16th birthday party, those walls mark occasions and visitors to our house and I have found extra enjoyment these days in reliving sweet memories.
Formal groups of signatures tell the story of gatherings like Prom and Homecoming before which some of my favorite people in the world crammed themselves into that stairway and gifted us all with their autographs. Other scribbles note less lofty but equally precious occasions, like the day the pool opened or the year Heidi Hoffman started middle school.
I spent one whole workout session squinting at the doodle of a magnifying glass every time I passed it, trying to figure out what clever person had imbedded a signature there. Eventually, I figured out that the tiny signature belonged to a tiny friend named Brooke, who signed the wall a decade ago when she was a student at Magellan Middle School.
On another session, I got to traipse through the delightfully fickle love life of a very young, very sweet family friend who hilariously updated her “Sondra loves…” notation four different times. I chuckle every time I pass as I was lucky enough to attend a grown-up Sondra’s gorgeous wedding to the real love of her life, Adam.
Near that, is a more mysterious romantic notation that must not have ended well because someone colored the entire heart in to cover up his or her pledge. I’m curious who wrote and then amended that little piece of the past.
These tiny glimpses into my house’s history keep me both interested and inspired as I stomp up and down those sturdy steps.
I note each time I pass the declaration that Aaron Marterer wants to be a Zoo Keeper and I often wonder what young Aaron actually grew up to be. I know who some of the other signers grew up to be and I’m so thrilled to have known them when they were small children with big dreams that they wrote with gusto all over my basement walls.
The wall writing continues, new names and fresh notations appear, and I love them all.
If you’re looking for a good cardio workout, I recommend checking out your basement stairs, and if you’re looking for a good workout for your heart, I recommend encouraging your house guests and residents to doodle away.