I have always wanted a real dollhouse. I want it to be bigger than I am, but I will settle for anything, as long as it has several rooms. I will glue wrapping paper on the tiny walls, like wallpaper, and cut up scraps of old towels for rugs. I dream of glueing postage stamps onto the walls, just like in The Borrowers book, framed with tiny pieces of wood that I will paint gold. I will be decorating with themes: hunter green for the living room, of course, and a burgundy dining room, to compliment the wood tones of the oak dining set I also hope to have. The bedrooms will be taupe and butter yellow, neutral for parents and guests sleeping over. The guests should have the yellow room, to keep them cheerful while they visit. If I am lucky enough to have a third floor, with the children’s rooms, those should be powder blue for the boys and bubblegum pink for the girls. I would prefer a cornflower blue house with white trim, and I especially like the Victorian ones, especially the ones with the big porches, even though you can’t really decorate a porch as much. (If I could, it would be with white wicker chairs with flowered cushions and a matching table.)
This little pink sink set is sort of a start for my dollhouse, even though I really prefer slate blue and white for my dream kitchen. I figure I can paint it, if I have to, or maybe one day I will be able to afford the fancy sinks I see at the craft store with Aunt Elisa. Aunt Elisa is not so old for an aunt, she is only fifteen years old, just seven years older than I am. But Mama says Gramma had Aunt Elisa TWELVE whole years after she had Mama. Thankfully, Aunt Elisa’s friend works at the craft store, and she is nice enough to bring me along once or twice a week when she visits Tianna here. We walk hand in hand for eleven blocks, mostly along side streets until at the last minute, we turn left and are right in front of the store. There is a smell, when we enter, of glue and dried flowers and wood. There are so many colors here, you would think there would be more smells, but you can’t really smell glitter, and the paint’s all closed. Sometimes, to give my nose a rest from all those old smells, I go to the little shelf by the cash register, with all of the scented erasers in their clear plastic tubs, like jars of candy. The strawberries are pretty awesome, sweet-smelling and so cute, just like the real berries! And I always have to pick up the popcorn one too, since that is the weirdest one to smell. They never get it right, but it always is weird, just like the popcorn jelly beans taste.
Our shoes make clomping noises over the wooden floor as we “Watch Our Steps!” over the place where the door used to be. I just learned what that means, but I think it is really silly because if I am watching my steps then I might bump into something with my head instead of my feet! Lots of things can be bumped into when you are only eight years old, and I worry most about my head. It has been bumped too many times already, I think. We enter the second half of the store, where the aisles get a little more crowded and certain places seem to not really have much light. This is exactly where I want to be: with the dollhouses. The dollhouses themselves are up on the wall, almost too high for me to see. I wonder who built all of them? They did a great job, they are beautiful. They must have nailed them to the wall since they are so big, and the store is so crowded already. I wish they were lower to the ground, so I could see better inside their rooms. But I kind of like to be able to see them from far away, too, so I can tell what they would really look like, if they were in my room.
I could spend hours looking at the dollhouses and all of their furniture and accessories. This section is different than the other sections: instead of only walls with hooks and pegs so all the bags of stuff can hang off of them, the dollhouse area also has an amazing glass counter. The top and the sides are both glass, so you can see the furniture inside, front and back. It helps me to imagine what they will look like in my house. The furniture in the case is the really fancy stuff: the miniature pianos and fancy dining sets and some of it is even made from marble. There is other furniture on the hanging walls, sealed in clear plastic bags with folded cardboard labels for hanging. The hanging walls are where the accessories are, too, and I can’t even believe all the things they have. Tiny records, and a record player. China dishes that are fancier than anything anyone I know has in their real houses. Tiny clocks and even little newspapers and magazines. I add all these things in, when I dream of my dollhouse.
I first found my pink sink set at a garage sale. Mama and I were walking to the grocery store and passed one of the houses where the garage backs up to the alley. I said “Mama, look! A garage sale!” It was across the street, and I wasn’t sure she would want to stop. She was tired because she just got home from work. I knew that if I asked her, she would probably not stop. But she must not have had the worst day today, because at the next street, she grabbed my hand and we crossed over to look at the garage sale. We didn’t hold hands very much anymore, since I was getting big now. I was glad that we still needed to sometimes, for safety reasons. The garage sale didn’t have much. It was one of those ones that really only have stuff nobody would want anymore. There were old magazines and small, beat up paperback books, and old brown fake leather cases for cassette tapes, with no cassettes inside. It seems like maybe a waste of effort to even try to sell this stuff.
Under one table, there was a box of toys - mostly happy meal toys that a lot of kids already had. I had the one that was a cheeseburger that transformed into a robot, and the stuffed crab from the cartoon movie, and the tiny mint-green My Little Pony. She was not as nice to hold as the real ones, but I still liked her pretty well. And then I saw this little pink thing in the back corner of the box. I reached my arm in up to my armpit in order to grab it. Mama was starting to walk back to the sidewalk and she was kind of looking back, telling me to hurry up like she does, with no words. And then I had to think very fast and figure out how I could get the sink. The box had “25 cents each” scribbled on its side with black marker. I hoped she had a really good day at work.
“Mama, look!” I had to try to get her to come back and see it. “Come on, Maya, time to go,” and now she was starting to frown at me. “Mama, this is so cool!” She sighed and her frown grew deeper. I smiled the biggest I could, and walked slowly toward where she was stopped at the edge of the alley. I didn’t want anyone to think I was going to steal it or anything. I held it up for Mama to see. “Mama, look at this! It is sooooooo cute. The drawers don’t open or anything but I think it is really cute.” “How much?” I was ready for this. “Only one quarter, and my birthday is coming up and so I think I can pay you back then.” Mama’s cheeks puffed out with her slow, irritated breath. “Fine, OK.” “OK?!” “OK.” “Thanks, Mama! I promise I will pay you back right away.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out three dimes. I paid the lady who sat inside the garage at the card table, and held tightly to my sink as I waited for Mama’s change.
Later that night, once we got home from getting the groceries, and ate dinner and cleaned up, I went to my bedroom and climbed into my bed. I laid on my stomach and just stared and stared at the sink. I thought about the drawers opening, and the things I would store inside the cabinet doors (cleaning stuff, probably, since there were pipes in there and all). I thought about how I could make a tiny dish rack to go on the counter part - I had never noticed one of those at the craft store. One of my friends made a whole entire dollhouse out of cardboard: old cereal boxes, milk cartons and berry baskets. She used tissues for the curtains and blankets, and cotton balls for the pillows. I know she worked hard on it. But it was hard to make it not look like a bunch of trash, and so I spent a lot of time thinking how I could make my own dollhouse feel nicer than that. My pink sink makes me even more excited!
I practice my decorating with the big Sears catalogs, tearing pictures out carefully and making piles of the things I like the most. The next thing is sorting them into pages, where I create my room themes. I paste them to scrap pages of paper that have stuff Mama doesn’t need anymore on one side of them. No one here really uses the Sears catalogs, so they are all mine to use and then throw out when I am done. I have a hard time getting rid of them, usually, in case I might need something later for my rooms. I especially love learning all the different colors in the catalog, because they inspire my rooms. My favorite catalog-designed room so far is one of the bedrooms. I haven’t decided yet if it will be the parents’ room or the guest room. It has a four-poster Oak bed with a matching dresser and the most beautiful quilt I have ever seen: all ivory with embroidery that looks like lace. That page is almost completely full. Not many people want to see my pages. Sometimes I show my friends, but they are not really into decorating so far. And none of them have real dollhouses, either. I don’t know if they really think about them. Definitely not all the time like I do.
I think about my dollhouse when we are walking places, when we are passing houses and the people who live in them. I think about it when I am playing outside with my friends, in our dirt backyards, shaping sticks in the dirt into house shapes. And I think about it in my room, laying on my bed on my stomach, when the screaming starts and gets so loud that it is hard to think about anything else. I think about my house, and I keep my little pink sink with me all the time, to remind me that just like the Cinderella song from the movie says, “If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”
(Learn more about my "object prompts" series here!)