Building a Childhood

I was the middle child and the only girl. I was sometimes a tomboy, which I had to be if I wanted to play with my brothers. I remember the three of us building little towns out of dirt under the big shade tree in our backyard. Working together, we would spend hours planning and constructing roads with long winding driveways, leading to our estates. Then we would casually move our Matchbox cars around, happily going about our business. I loved the angles on the front of my little car, and how good it looked as it made careful turns around our tidy little town. I was an excellent driver.

I could never convince my brothers to play dolls with me, so I often played by myself. I sewed some clothes by hand and had a little wardrobe with lots of accessories for Barbie and her best friend, Midge. I remember building them a two-storied, colonial-style house out of five cardboard boxes. The fifth box was for the attached garage, which held Barbie’s pink convertible. I cut the garage door out of the end of the box so that her car would fit inside. Their whitewashed mansion had double doors in the front, and symmetrical windows draped with hand-made curtains. I always kept the curtains closed. I used to sit in front of that little house and stare at those windows, pretending that it was cold and raining outside. I saw soft lamps glowing in each room, making the space warm and cozy. I imagined a happy, loving family living there.

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