“We are the proud owners of a two-story colonial!” That’s the title of the e-mail I sent to my family and friends the day we brought my dollhouse home. I attached this photo and wrote, “Probably the only house we’ll ever own in the Bay Area.” And I was ecstatic!
We have a charming apartment in an old home and we love it, but this, this house belonged to me. When you put work into a rental or even your own home for that matter, you leave it behind when and if you move. I like to think I’m not a material person, but when it comes to sentimental things, especially things I’ve created, vintage finds, or things that have been passed down, there’s always a little sadness in leaving them behind or giving them away (even when there’s joy in the giving too!). There’s something special about the things you create; each piece is like a child; something that was conceived within you that you actively bring into the world. Its birth is sacred and beautiful. Luckily, I don’t have to leave this house behind. It can come with us wherever we go. Someday it will get passed down again, but not yet. For now, it is my home.
There’s something else really special about this dollhouse. The year it came back into my life had been a year of longing; longing for a sense of home. I had been feeling melancholy, even bordering on self-pity, lamenting the fact that the special places from my childhood had been sold or were gone. My parents had divorced when I was seven, so I’d had two homes; my dad’s, where I had lived from birth through age 14, and my mom’s, that we had built and where I had lived from fourth grade through my high school graduation. We also had two cabins, one on each side of the family. I wanted to share these places with my family, my son, feel that sense of connectedness that comes with being in those places that hold special memories. My heart felt sad and lonely. In my mind, I understood; life changes and we would make new memories in new places. And yet I felt as if I had no anchor. Then this house arrived. I believe it was God’s way to show me both that I am cared for and also that God has a sense of humor. Suddenly, I did have a home from my childhood. My memory could serve as that place of rich history and roots I was longing for in having a childhood home. I could use the dollhouse to fill with my memories, my stories, family heirlooms and mementos.
This picture is the only real “Before” photo we took. That’s because my husband took it. He’s great at documenting special moments and remembering to capture the journey. I just jump right in and begin to create. We had fun this first day, before the work began, and discovered the house also makes a fun space for Star Wars guys. I look forward to sharing how the house has changed since this picture. I’ve done a lot of work in the past two years, though not nearly as much as I would have liked to. I hope to spend more time doing so in the coming months. I read an interesting article the other day, which comes to my inbox as Eknath Easwaren’s Thought for the Day from The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. The part I loved said, “Mogul art, one of the great periods of artistic achievement in India, often is in miniature. The artist concentrated on very small areas, on little things, and worked with tenderness and precision. Only somebody who understands art will be able to see all the love and labor that has gone into it.” I don’t know what Mogul art is, but I think the same could be said about dollhouses. It does take lots of love, labor, tenderness and precision. It is worth it; it is my home at last.