Wednesday, April 18, 2012

top five

If a list of the top five things people say to me when I tell them I'm almost done with college was created, certainly somewhere on that list would be the question, "So what are you going to do with all of your spare time when you're done?"

I've given this a lot of thought in the past few hours and I think I'd like to build a playhouse.

A few weeks ago, I decided to change up my drive to school. Instead of driving clear across the valley to get to the freeway, I decided to drive south and east and south and east until I got to Redwood Road and then I stayed on it until I got to Lehi and found an eastbound road that took me right to the heart of the construction congestion.

I'm so smart.

While driving into Lehi a few days ago, I got this feeling that I was in a familiar place. Something about that road was so familiar. It reminded me of a trip many years ago with my parents when we were going to go motorcycle riding and dad pointed out the house and yard of the guy who bought my playhouse for his daughter. And sure enough, I caught a brief glimpse of it, sitting in someone else's yard as we drove by on the way to the sand dunes.

When I was about six, my parents decided to build a playhouse. Dad was a carpenter and between stuff he had laying around his garage and leftover stuff from projects at work, he was able to build a playhouse that was 5' x 9' and about 5' tall inside. The outside was painted brick red and tan to match our real house, and mom painted the inside a bright sunflower yellow. Dad found commercial floor tile that they laid in a checkerboard pattern, and he also found ceiling tile for the ceiling. He shingled the roof outside and mom made yellow sheer curtains for the windows. They told me just this week that they only spent $10 on the whole playhouse--they had to buy a sheet of plexi-glass that they cut into pieces for windows. I spent my childhood in that playhouse, because while it may have started as a playhouse for me and my two brothers, it quickly became "The Dollhouse"--the place where all of my dolls, their clothes and furniture, my play dishes, dress-ups, and games were stored. I played for hours in there, with friends and alone, all through the year. There was probably a short time in the deepest of winter when we couldn't open the door because it was blocked by snow, but I remember playing in there even when it was cold and especially when it was sunny or cloudy or rainy. It was a perfect place to grow up in.

When I was newly married, my dad called one day and said the guy who delivered wood to his workshop had asked if we wanted to sell the dollhouse to him. He had a little girl who he knew would love it.

I made what was possibly one of my most clueless newly adult decisions--I agreed to sell the dollhouse with most of my childhood toys inside. Why did I not realize I would have a little girl someday who would happily have spent hours in that space? How did I not suspect there would be other little girls in my life who would have enjoyed that place too?

Well I didn't. So we sold it for $80 and my dad gave me the cash.

That feeling I felt as I drove through Lehi last week? It was spot on. I was driving past the house and yard of the man I sold my dollhouse to.

I kind of became a stalker. I looked online for the guy's address to make sure I had the right place. Then I drove by slowly on the main road through town at least three times hoping to see the dollhouse sitting back behind his house.

Next I drove into the subdivision to see if I could see into his back yard. Turns out his driveway is in the subdivision, not on the main road. I know this because I drove into the subdivision twice.

Yesterday was one of those times. And as I slowly drove by the yard, peering in under the trees, I noticed a woman walking up the driveway from the mailbox.

I couldn't help myself. I rolled down my window and called out to her--told her I thought my dad had sold my playhouse to the man who lived in that house, told her the guy's name--she nodded and said yes, that was her dad and he had bought a playhouse for her and she had loved it. She'd spent her childhood in that space, with its yellow walls and curtains, playing with the barbies and baby dolls, the dishes and games, the dress-ups. She had loved it too.

I asked if it was still there--if there was any chance they would be willing to sell it back to me.

She said she was sorry, but her dad had given it to someone else a few years ago. She seemed truly sorry.

I thanked her. Told her I was glad that she too had enjoyed it.

And I drove off to school, wiping my eyes, sniffling a bit.

I'm pretty sure it will cost me more than $10, but I think I have time now to build another playhouse. And I think I know some little girls who would enjoy making memories in a place like that.


Lisa B. said...

so lovely. I really really hope you do this.

Amelia said...

I loved this post, and hope you do make a house!

Joey said...

I ALWAYS wanted a playhouse. My father-in-law had one and my children loved it.

You totally should do it. It will be worth every effort.