By Jono Naito
When my grandmothers left the house in the thick spring of ’94, I crawled into the food pantry by the kitchen and found the fuse box behind the extra flour and decrepit spices. A fuse box says a lot about a house, about its soul. It said my sister’s room was an office, that mine was a guest room. No wonder she did so well in school; no wonder I always wanted to leave.
I didn’t get caught for an hour, peeling away at stickers, looking for what was underneath. The second floor was labeled ‘second half’. No first half sticker. Maybe the house was larger. I imagined rooms extending back from the kitchen, into the fields. Missouri was all big places. It was amazing to think I hadn’t gone halfway around the world when I walked the yard. I was still figuring out my escape route. I needed maps.
Two rooms had no labels. I tried to guess which ones by turning off the fuses. The switches were huge for my little fingers; I pushed a lot of big buttons, causing my mother to call me a ”brat”, which meant I hid my homework, or kissed the neighbor’s kid under the porch. She didn’t like that, said she’d wash out my mouth with soap. I said ”That’s called abuse,” cheeky as I was. She wanted to know where I learned that.
They found me when the kitchen didn’t function. Dinner came to a halt. I was dragged out, yelled at, but I still ate with everyone, wondering about the second room. They forgot I did it, and I wondered what the point of fuses was, of trying to figure it all out. Beginning, end, middle, where we came from and went. I wished that I could find my own fuse box.
Jono Naito is a recovering New Yorker hiding in Syracuse. If you want to find him you will have to dig him out of the snow, or go to jononaito.com.