Friday, October 3, 2014

Secret Pleasure

For two years my best friend Robbie moved back to Canada from Israel. Although we didn’t see each other as much as we hoped, it made me happy that she was only a few hours away in Toronto, in the same time zone. She’s back in Israel now, but last week she sent me an email entitled "Secret Pleasure" with a picture that made me very happy. It was of the inside of her daughter’s dollhouse, similar to Robbie's doll house we used to play with when we were little. Her daughter redoes the layout daily and sometimes Robbie gets to play too. Here is the studio apartment her daughter created in her dollhouse attic. 

I didn’t have a beautiful doll house like Robbie’s when I was growing up. I had something my Zeydi had built that was interesting and amazing, but somehow rough and clunky and was decorated in very bright 70’s wallpaper, dark oranges and bright pinks. My friend’s dollhouse was white and elegant and unlike my odd collection of mis-matched furniture, she had Lundby, a Swedish dollhouse company, furniture.

 I think dollhouses for us were not about acting out domestic dramas, as they were about interior decorating, and to a certain extent, materialism. I would count my allowance, trying to weigh a purchase of tiny candlesticks against a larger, more useful item, like a bathroom sink.  When I was in grade 6 or 7 I won my own Lundby dollhouse in a draw at our local toystore. It was an even nicer dollhouse than Robbie’s, but it was too late. I was interested in the house for maybe a month, and then I was too old to play, or even decorate. 
That dollhouse is in my parents’ storage. I got it out once for my boys, but they were disinterested. And that’s fine. Maybe my niece will like it one day when she’s a little older.  I’m hoping she’ll let me rearrange the furniture to my heart’s content.

I have in the back of my mind a character for a story I want to write, about a girl with a doll house. She’ll be too old for doll houses, maybe even twelve, but everyday she’ll rearrange the furniture depending on how she’s feeling. It may be a way for her to communicate with her mother, a way to show her wishes and dreams, maybe a way to remember the way her family used to be.

If you really love dollhouses, check out Queen Mary's dollhouse in Windsor Castle. Built between 1921 and 1924 by British architect Edward Luytens, it’s a replica of an aristocratic home, complete with electric lights, running water and most importantly, a fully stocked library.  

Queen Mary's Dollhouse Library

The Dining Room of Queen Mary's Dollhouse