The basement wasn’t only the playroom when I was growing up. After Grandma Snow died we took the big TV, the one you couldn’t turn the channels down on, and took it to the dump. I loved the dump because of the sorting of bottles. I liked throwing the different color bottles into their designated places and watching them smash. I liked the loud noise that came with glass on glass or glass on concrete as shards flew up at me and I ducked down–but that part was only my imagination.

The basement was off limits when my brother and his girlfriend lived with us. My half-brother, 14 years older, a superhero of real life for me back then, but the playroom the basement had been back then was now a portal to Bruce Lee, The Punisher, and Ultimate Bass fishing on the Sony Playstation. In the spot where the TV had been was a desk. The floor there looking as though it had been meant to be hidden, it’s carpeting slightly lighter than the other parts of the carpet down there.

The organ was against a different wall, when my brother lived there. I didn’t know how he’d moved it because to me it was the heaviest thing in the world, but he was also the strongest person, so I guess it wasn’t such a problem for me.

I was allowed in the basement then only when was home. At night when my father came home and my mother would bring something up he didn’t want to talk about their voices would grow slowly louder at the dinner table. Each piece of corn, or pea I ate uncorking a new decibel level to what had started off as a conversation and was now quickly becoming an argument which in turn would escalate into a fight. So after putting my plate near the sink, their voice, now harsh enough it felt as though it was time for me to leave or I might be targeted next, I slunk down the stairs to my brother’s room and knocked on the door, hoping my brother was there and hoping he was willing to have me sit in and watch him workout or play video games. He always was. He’d open the door and from upstairs the shouting had flew around the room and little of it bounced down the stairs and through the ceiling over our heads.

“Hey bud,” Ryan would say and I’d ask if I could hang out because I was bored, not because my parents were screaming obscenities at each other.

He would say sure and I’d sit on the ugly couch and watch him play Resident Evil 2 or Crash Bandicoot, and sometimes he’d give me some candy and we’d turn on music and pretend we didn’t have two people seriously upset at each other just over our heads. But pretending that was hard because we could hear the shouting and the stomping and the vibration of the ceiling as things became more heated.