“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt…and then, it’s hilarious.”
I remember my playhouse at 33152 Cherry Street. Dad built it close to the barn and beside the sandbox. Like our home, that tiny dwelling had horizontal side boards painted pale pink and yellow. It was tiny, but our imaginations were huge.
There was also the tree house, the classic platform spread between the arms of a large maple, the kind they always draw in comic strips. It was at the top of the trail in our back bush. Was it from that treehouse ladder that Barb broke her arm? Or maybe she fell off our Tarzan rope?
There was also a two-story tower and a two-story A-Frame across the pond. I remember learning how to straighten used nails to help build both of those structures. Later, Dad used the tractor to drag the little playhouse up into the bush to join the other buildings.
To the west of the Tarzan rope, there was a scary dug-out bunker. I’m sure my parents didn’t build it. It was more of an earth hole with a rotting roof covered with so much moss and leaves that it was indiscernible from the rest of the forest floor. In spite of the captivating draw of a old-fashioned round toggle light switch, we didn’t go in there too often. Especially since the switch had long ago ceased to bring in power or light.
It seemed impossible to imagine that dark cave as a place you’d want to hunker down to wait out the end of the world.
Between all those forts, buildings, the barn, and, with all my neighbourhood friends’ places to explore – there were limitless places to play and imagine brave new worlds.
And here I am, a gazillion years later, living proof that life is a circle. Because I’m still living that playhouse life.
We’ve now lived in this little Roberts Creek rainforest cottage for 5 1/2 months.
This is the same amount of time that we were on the road with our teeny tiny trailer.
Before that, we lived for just over three years in a downtown Vancouver apartment.
In a couple of months, we’ll move to a townhouse in Sechelt.
As in my childhood, each new ‘playhouse’ asks to be dealt with in certain ways. Like the next townhouse, this cottage was already furnished. This means I have to reimagine using someone else’s things to create an environment that suits us. Each home demands a different response and way of inhabiting space.
I love creating zones; for reading, writing, art, music (admittedly, in these fairly tight spaces, each zone generally serves more than one purpose). The best part is the thrift store hunts to fill in any blanks and then using my art and plants for the rest. What it boils down to, is simply not taking this ‘creating a home’ business too seriously.
I have long ago realized that we’re never going to be the couple that buys a dining or living room ‘set’. We are definitely not the target market for that particular ad campaign. I would much rather play with cheap props and then return them to be recycled through the thrift store when we’re done.
However, like any decision in life, there are moments when I wish for a place of our own.
So far, that feeling tends to pass fairly quickly – mostly because I have no idea where exactly that home would be.
Perhaps the appeal of this quasi-nomadic lifestyle is that it’s kind of like travel. When we go on a trip, we go to a new destination, meet new people, see new things, have different interactions and discover that these experiences evoke responses and feelings that we wouldn’t learn if we stayed safely at home, cocooned in our same comfortable world.
I am appreciating this chance to create and explore and to learn from each new environment. A spirit of play is important as a child and perhaps even more important as an adult. It is one more way to figure out who we are.
And isn’t that the ultimate question that life demands from each of us?
For now, I am still playing house, and though I haven’t made any mud pies lately, I have been thinking about a pottery class.
Won’t you please,
please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.
— Supertramp, The Logical Song