My earliest memories are as a young girl in my parents’ first house. I remember running down the bedroom hallway looking up slightly to doorknobs. Light switches were perched just out of reach. It was a rambler – a one level house with a huge back yard. Most of my friends in the neighborhood lived in very similar style houses. It must have been typical suburban housing at the time. We did not have a single step in that house, except for one step up to our front door.

I have other vivid memories of going to my grandparents’ homes for dinner. Every Sunday it seemed my brothers and I were piled in the car with my parents, headed over to visit one set or the other. I feel very fortunate to have had all four grandparents in a nearby city, and to have known them all when they were young, active and healthy (and one is still alive today in her early 90s)!

What else was great about visiting my grandparents, besides endless fun, great food and enormous amounts of hugs? Their houses had…STAIRS. These houses were older, full of character, creaks in the floors, cracks in plaster and fancy chandeliers. Oh, the stories these houses could tell! The faceted, glass doorknobs looked like huge diamonds and I imagined they really were! Some stairs led down to basements – basements! – full of wonderful old artwork, my grandfather’s desk with a black rotary phone, typewriter and adding machine, shuffleboard tiles built into the floor and an easel with colored chalk for doodling. Another basement had small, old machine parts for my brothers to dig through, the washer and dryer and funny comic strip clippings on the walls. It was all endlessly fascinating.

The “up” stairs led to bedrooms, plushly carpeted with scores of old family photos on the walls. One staircase was so steep it just seemed so daunting and enormous to me, especially as a child! What a journey to just go upstairs to bed!

These houses might seem a little small by today’s standards, but I can tell you to me they each seemed like mansions. Stairs meant unknown excitement about what was waiting on that next floor – it’s very hard to describe but profound nonetheless. And even today lots of my dreams have both stairs and doors in them. I guess it’s just something I’m continually mesmerized with despite how simple and basic they are.

A few years later, my folks decided it was time to move us – my brothers and I – out of our rambler to a new house a few blocks down the street. I think we’d run out of bedrooms, come to think of it!

The first time I stepped into our soon-to-be new house, Dad was busy painting bedrooms while Mom was busy packing boxes. I couldn’t BELIEVE it…our new house had stairs! This was a floorplan I’d never experienced before: the main entry and living area was on the top floor, and the stairs led down to a daylight basement and family room. This was the most amazing house ever! Yes, at age eight I knew this!

When it came time for me to branch out on my own after college I lived in four different apartments before buying my current place. The apartments? Each was a flat. My home purchase? A townhome. And an end unit to boot; I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone stomping above me or below me unless they’re were in the house with me. I’ve got just one common wall with a neighbor. And if I have guests over for entertaining, the upstairs bedrooms can stay a mess as long as the kitchen and living room are cleaned up. It’s absolutely perfect, as I get to be in a “house” of sorts, but still connected as part of a community which is very important.

And, I have my own stairs.