ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE: Sleeping in a fort under the stairs

I went to a cabin in Big Bear last weekend and indulged in a childhood delight: I slept in a fort under the stairs.

I came late to the cabin party so all the beds and couches had been taken. My good friend Diana, who’d organized the cabin weekend, said there was a hidden sleeping spot, a fort they’d made by tying blankets to the stair railings. There were pillows inside, it felt secret and safe. I claimed it!

This was a perfect turn of events, because lately I’m trying to act more like a kid. The closer I get to childlike experiences, the happier I feel. The more serious life gets–loved ones with health problems, taxes I still need to file–the more I find relief in seeking out the simple magic of childhood, when blankets could create enchanted hiding places, and life was as trying as my next spelling test.

I actually really like being an adult, but there’s a freedom in approaching each day with childlike wonder. To watch my babe niece, the magnificent Junely, playing in her kiddie pool, sunlight all around her, discovering the splashing noise her hands make in the water, is to remember that it IS astounding our arms move because our brains tell them too, and we can create sounds, sensations, anger, silliness, sadness, anything at all with our imaginations.

So that’s why I’m trying to do kid things every day: I dance around my room to silly pop music, I kick dandelions to create fairy dust, I eat dessert before dinner (try it!). And I sleep in forts. Diana crawled into the fort with me for a time, which was fitting, since we first met at 10 years old, when we’d spend hours turning our Tahoe homes into labyrinths of dreams, while outside it snowed and snowed.

That night in Big Bear, in the fort, I slept deep and well, safe in the kid feeling that life was easy, and I’d always be taken care of.


The fort in Big Bear. Cozy. Secret. A place to dream.


41 responses

  1. Betina Vazquez

    I’m a big kid myself, never question that good feeling that arises when you stare up at the stars and wonder ❤

    October 3, 2013 at 4:45 am

  2. Hmmm…. might be!

    September 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm

  3. Halloween is just around the corner, time to revisit the fort?

    September 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

  4. I should have mentioned that one the favorite Saturday morning activities of my siblings and me was fort building. They got pretty elaborate some days – we’d use all the cushions from all the chairs, any blankets and/or sheets we could lay our hands on.

    We put this to great use at Halloween when we’d build haunted forts in the basement, which our parents often helped build and would let us leave up for days. 😀

    September 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm

  5. It’s worse than that really. Most of the school systems in the west (and thus those based on them, which is, again, most) were designed with the industrial revolution in mind. That is to say to make good factory workers. Sure there have been some changes sense them, but in most cases this basic structuring hasn’t changed (even if no one thinks about the reasons behind the structure these days).

    September 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

  6. Lol well you survived to tell the tale! Thanks for commenting!

    September 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

  7. Best naps are in forts! And on boats.

    September 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

  8. This sentence captures the experience best for me: “I actually really like being an adult, but there’s a freedom in approaching each day with childlike wonder.”

    Lovely post. Thanks!

    September 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

  9. Absolutely LOVE THIS!

    September 21, 2013 at 12:19 am

  10. I think that magic is available to us everyday, if we make time to marvel. 🙂

    September 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

  11. I pang allll the time Jessica! Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the post!

    September 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

  12. I really enjoyed this. Pangs of nostalgia are hard to resist!

    September 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

  13. Who doesn’t like a fort? I have fond childhood memories of l creating forts out of pool towels on a climbing structure at my town pool when it rained and we couldn’t swim. Now that I think about it, I think we would make the forts when it was thundering which probably isn’t the best time to be under a metal jungle gym! 🙂

    September 19, 2013 at 4:51 am

  14. I’m at the same place in life; looking to find that wonder and magical feeling from youth when everything was new and anything was possible!!! It’s a shame we don’t keep that same sense of wonder as we grow up. I would’ve slept in the fort under the stairs too; it sounds magical, and fun!

    September 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

  15. In my opinion, the educational system is the one responsible for erasing the artist within us. Most of the schools all over the world are academically based, and thus, require to teach and train children to be ready for global competitiveness which aid on technological advancements as they grow up. Few schools give priorities to what really matters within a person – the need to express – the artist within themselves.

    September 19, 2013 at 12:36 am

  16. Amy

    I love the picture. I am ready for a nap now.

    September 19, 2013 at 12:10 am

  17. Reblogged this on thinkadoptlove and commented:
    How important it is to keep that childhood wonder! I love this cozy little fort! Wish we had stairs to make one.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

  18. If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.

    Carl Jung

    September 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm

  19. Thank you for the reblog!!! I want to make a fort in my house to sleep in whenever I’m feeling “old.” You might like this one as well:

    September 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm

  20. Glad you enjoyed the post, there will be more to come. You might also like:

    September 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm

  21. Hahahaaaaa

    September 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm

  22. Thanks for the reblog, Benji, look forward to checking out your site!

    September 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm

  23. Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it and glad you connected, we’re all kids at heart!

    September 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm

  24. Being a kid keeps you young at heart! Thanks for the comment!

    September 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm

  25. love the under the stair fort… and why not act like a kid sometime…it’s fun!

    September 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

  26. Brings back that childhood magic, doesn’t it?

    September 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

  27. Doing small things that matter to us bring happiness. Children find ways to keep themselves busy n happy n so should we!

    September 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

  28. The simple things in life are most often the most fulfilling.

    September 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

  29. omtatjuan

    Very good! What a nice story. Keep your words flowing.

    September 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

  30. Reblogged this on Benji Wulf | Programming & Prose and commented:
    This piece brought out favorite experiences as a youth, try it on!

    September 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

  31. I do eat dessert before diner. It annoys other adults, and I like that.

    September 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm

  32. Reblogged this on ramblingsofastoryteller.

    September 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  33. so true, to live with the curiosity and simple pleasures of a kid is to find happiness

    September 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  34. Love this post, there’s nothing better than remembering and still being able to see the wonder in the world. Little reminders like these are always a welcomed read in my opinion!

    September 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

  35. That would be the perfect room for this little oinker. I would absolutely LOVE IT. XOXO – Bacon

    September 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

  36. What a perfect place!.
    Trouble is, I would have been too excited to sleep

    September 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

  37. Reblogged this on steamsoflife and commented:
    This is just what you need sometimes in your life, taking life too serious can lead to you not appreciate what is really around you.
    Life is beautiful.

    September 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

  38. Kids just see what is there and describe it. Some of the best art & literature I’ve ever experienced is when the artist does exactly that.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:25 am

  39. Reblogged this on Cristian Mihai and commented:
    Like Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

    September 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

  40. Truer words have rarely been spoken, CM.

    September 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  41. Somehow I think that acting like a child means always trying to discover the world around you. Besides, I think that artists never really grow up. They just grow old.

    September 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm

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