upstairs and to the left


It’s funny how far a few words go.

Or an action.

I remember this thing from so many years ago. I and my sibses had been making fun of our middle sister, because of her orthodontic headgear. Kind, weren’t we?

Mum decided we each ought to wear the stuff, which fitted around the outside of her face, for a whole day. A day, no less, which we should be out in public.

For a homeschooled child, that’s a big deal.


My turn came when we went to town for a field trip to learn about meteorology. During most of the class itself I forgot the atrocity my face displayed, but then at the end, when we crowded out into the entry way I was well aware. WELL aware. I didn’t want to exist.

I saw a little girl with stunning blonde braids. The ten-year-old heart of I was jealous, naturally. Why should she be gorgeous and not I? Then she smiled at me. Ugly face and headgear and shame and all, she smiled at me.

That was over a decade ago. I remember standing there ashamed and looking through the glass at this walking angel and she gave me the sweetest smile.

I figured out a thing, sometime after that.

Words are like that too. They can be this healing, reaching sap that pulls wounds together and binds up tears. Smiles can come in the mail and you can stamp and seal up joy. Belly laughs CAN be transcribed via text (but read said texts near the bathroom.) Those few syllables can break the silence into something so beautiful and lasting that long after you’ve forgotten, that girl you spoke love to is still grinning like you blew her a kiss.

I worded up these paint chips and almost sent them out a while ago. Then I decided they were silly. Then she came home for Christmas and I had promised her a letter so I gave ’em to her and told her not to laugh to hard, or something like that.

Now it’s been a year and she’s texting me on her lonely day and saying she’s reading them again.

Maybe my words make her smile, because hers sure make me smile. Darling, thank you. wpid-2015-01-24-07.06.58-1.jpg.jpeg

I know this thing about words is true. I got a letter from a gorgeous – and busy – lady over in Washington and it wasn’t just a letter, but a verse and some encouragement and happy. I pinned it up there on my bulletin board, next to another letter from another girl.


And today I got another letter from another girl, and I just smiled. Her words were short and poignant and she just put them there on my heart with a gentle pat, and a twinklin’ eye.

Oh ladies. Your few and simple and precious words are more permanent than you know! I frame them in my mind’s eye and decorate mental rooms with them, and then some days I just go in there and toast my toes by the fire you’ve lit and remember I’m a Swogbabegirl and “I Are Enough” and Before I was born I was Set Apart. I take time to laugh about the little house in Viking where my room was “Upstairs and to the left” and the letter I found on my pillow there, and I bask in the happy of knowing somebody remembers the “32 million little things” I’ve done.


Today is the day I decided I must keep stationery on hand. Today is when I figured that beautiful and extravagant purchase of cards would be worth it, because wouldn’t I pay that and hundreds more to see the smiles on the faces?


2 thoughts on “upstairs and to the left

  1. Pingback: the courage of red lipstick | love, sarah ashley

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