The room maker


Before you read this post, there is something you need to know. Before my best friend drew nipples and pubic hair on all my dolls with Sharpies at age 10, I played with dolls for a good portion of my life. Get over it.

Also, in writing this post, I’ve taken my mind on a journey, and I didn’t know where it was leading until I was done writing. My mind is actually sort of blown by my own basic, simple self-analysis. I need to ponder further on the door it opened, so enjoy while I go explore that room.

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My favorite part of my favorite Paul Simon song goes “He looks around, around, he sees angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity,” which you may recognize from You Can Call Me Al. I don’t know what it is, but I love the feel of that moment, like I’m in a big wide open place with beautiful structures and statues, like Rome. I’ve got my arms wide open, while people bustle all about me, and I’m spinning in the middle taking it all in. It invokes a moment of admiration, appreciation, and gratitude for what has been created and what is around me. However, my interpretation is exactly that – my own. According to Wikipedia (because if it’s on the internet, it’s true), that song is about Paul Simon’s own mid-life crisis, and by the 3rd verse, he’s traveled to Africa and begun work his new album with that song, Graceland.

Architecture is something I really enjoy in a city. It speaks to me, wherever I am. In Sydney, the detail I noticed was skinny terrace homes on a quaint tree-lined street, with detailed iron balcony railings of all designs and colors. It was the only detail I recognized as unique to Australia, as it’s a relatively young country and continent who’s yet to develop its own architectural style.

I loved the Greek Isles for the ruins. Talk about ancient architecture. Mykonos was my favorite for the buildings by the water, and Delos was my favorite for ruins, with Santorini and Athens not far behind. The Acropolis and the Parthenon are simply breathtaking up close and far away.

In San Francisco, I absolutely hands-down LOVE Victorian homes built before 1900. I once owned a condo in SF built in 1885 – the original foundation had to be reinforced for new earthquake codes introduced since it was built. Victorian homes have an attention to detail, a character, and a feeling.

San Francisco architecture is currently breaking my heart a little bit. With demand for housing in the city skyrocketing even higher than it already was, new buildings are popping up all over the city. Sadly, they don’t maintain the same feel as the Victorian and Edwardian buildings. I’d love to see architects designing these apartment buildings put a little thought into how to blend the modern design and conveniences with the feel of Victorian and Edwardian buildings already in existence here. Instead, what is happening, is a modern glass panel building on the same block as an older building with character. The juxtaposition and harsh transition from one to another just doesn’t feel right. Personally, I love the older buildings, for the personality and unique features.

My love for Victorian homes started when I was a young girl. My parents bought me a dollhouse kit and helped me build it. I noticed and appreciated every intricate detail of that house – the staircase, the panel siding, the shingles on the roof, the crown molding – the bones, the feeling, the whimsical imaginary world it opened up. It not only helped build spatial thinking, but it brought out the inner interior designer in me. I loved putting my personal touch on the house, more than I liked using it when it was finished. I found thin strips of wood at a craft store with which I made mock hardwood flooring. I chose a color previously unheard of to paint the outside – peach. Didn’t see that one coming, even when I was building it. But it spoke to me, and it said peach. There was a romance to this dollhouse, that allowed my imagination to run free, and not just with the stories of the dolls in it. It was cozy, and so full of potential. (This picture below is not the actual one I had, but it’s the closest design I could find on Google.)

 photo dollhouse.jpg

Ironically, just for fun, I recently looked up what it means when you dream of a dollhouse. “To see or play with a dollhouse in your dream suggests that you are idealizing family life. You have the notion that everything is perfect or problem-free. Perhaps you are in denial about any problems. Alternatively, the dollhouse in your dream may serve as an indirect way to solve and work out waking problems with family members.” Amazing. Apparently, my attitudes towards this dollhouse as a child were a form of therapy and coping with what was going on around me.

With my 20/20 hindsight, I was learning exactly what the American Dream was with that dollhouse. In the 50’s that American Dream was getting a job, buying a cookie cutter house, having a perfect Stepford wife, having 2.2 kids and a dog. Designing the inside of that dollhouse meant I could create pieces of furniture myself, create something. I also went into the craft store with my mother and looked at the dollhouse furniture every time, almost like a woman who was about to get married would play house and buy things for a new home with her husband. But being the only child I was, I did not want to share (and didn’t play well with others). There was no husband I was decorating this for. It was my dreams, my choices, my imagination, my world. I was the architect of my own world (despite the kit with premade materials). This house was all mine. The lyrics in the theme song to the TV series Weeds “Little Boxes”, nailed what that American dream was. Deep.

Little Boxes – Malvina Reynolds

 photo Melissa-amp-Doug-Deluxe-Victorian--pTRU1-3646969dt.jpg

In fact, I didn’t even need a dollhouse, to make a house for my dolls. I had Barbies, Skippers, Kens, clothes, and accessories; I even had a Barbie corvette. During the summers, I would play outside with all my Barbie junk, and make tree houses in the hedges on our front lawn. They had somewhat horizontal branches, which made perfect Barbie beds. In my world, Barbies shared beds (totally a lesbian, even as a little girl), which would often be a puzzle box with a piece of scrap fabric as a comforter, and pillows. Funny, the bed was always the key part in my world. That had to be perfect… and it’s still true today with my real bed. I love that thing. It is perfect, and in fact, it’s more likely to have two Barbies in it than a Barbie and a Ken, if you catch my drift… Deeper and deeper…

Taking the game outside meant that I developed a love of tree houses. Tree houses were just a different take on building that dream home in my world. To this day, there is a whimsical romantic notion that I want to live in a treehouse one day, but a decked-out adult one.

 photo treehouse.jpeg

After my love of treehouses had been established and I begged without success for one in our yard (we just didn’t have any good sturdy trees), I found out my neighbor was going to build a treehouse in their back yard. I was so jealous, and wanted one so badly. I had to live vicariously through my neighbors.

I imagined my own tree house, that I didn’t have to share with anyone else. It was everything I wanted in that personal world to take it a step further. It had a view. You got to climb a tree. Getting stuff up there with a pulley was even cool, like when your mom sent lunch up. If you were lucky, you had a complimentary tire swing underneath the treehouse. It was the ultimate fort! Who didn’t love to take a sleeping bag up there and a book?! Up there, in the clouds yet firmly rooted on the ground was My Place. I would take every book up there; that’s where my mind wanted to be when it processed information and envisioned new worlds. Boy, if I had a tree house, I’d play in it every day.

To this day, I have on my bucket list, building a dollhouse/treehouse for a kid who really wants one. It really represents opening up a child’s mind to fostering a healthy imagination, that same feeling of euphoria, a My Place of their own, where they can be confident and learn and grow into a wonderful person. Nothing holds that feeling for me like the tree house Calvin and Hobbes had.

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Even in the doll house as a child, in my current residence, a Victorian style San Francisco apartment with a bay window that has a sweeping view, My Place will always be a safe space to grow, to read, to be alone, and explore every cavern of my imagination. There is nothing like a bay window reading nook to be the frosting on my perfect home cake. That is my secret world.

 photo baywindowseatingnook.jpg

When researching dream meanings, I also noted what it meant to build a new room, anywhere, be it in a dollhouse, a treehouse, or a city. “To dream that you find or discover a new room suggests that you are developing new strengths and taking on new roles. You may be growing emotionally. Consider what you find in the discovered room as it may indicate repressed memories, fears, or rejected emotions. Alternatively, such rooms are symbolic of neglected skills or rejected potential.“

In my inner psyche, I’m building rooms in My Place, I’m working with the bones, the architecture I see and inserting myself into a space. Throughout my entire life, this is happening. Writing this post has been an adventure for me, as I’ve never thought through or interpreted any of this. I think I’ve just had my own a-ha moment.

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I’ve let you into Fort My Place, dear reader. You’re special, or something.


One comment on “The room maker

  1. Pingback: Leo’s den | idigres

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