Monday, March 10, 2014

My Mushroom House


When I was a kid I was obsessed with making houses or strange living spaces. I loved the idea of dwellings in general. Birds lived in a bunch of twigs perched in a tree and that was awesome! My fighting fish George lived in a bowl with blue rocks because if he was in the aquarium he would murder the rest of the fish and that was also awesome! I adored the mushroom my Smurfs lived in as much as the 3-story Barbie condo with the elevator and the pool on the roof. I built structures out of Bristle Blocks and Legos. I constructed forts for my teddy bears to reside in. I liked the idea of Papa Smurf or Peaches n’ Cream Barbie or White Teddy Bear Holding A Heart creating their reality. In other words, Barbie lived in that condo because that is exactly where she wanted to live. Papa Smurf wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but that little mushroom. White Teddy Bear Holding A Heart pictured himself living in a fort made of Strawberry Shortcake sheets and brown and orange cushions from the living room couch. It was his destiny.

This is how I thought about the adults in my life and on television too. I thought that everyone ended up exactly where they’d planned to end up, almost as if they were blank slates floating in space until they designed their reality. “I’d like to have black curly hair and two daughters and live in a house with a giant fireplace in Midland, Texas, please,” I imagined my mom saying into the ether.  If someone is a lawyer in Seattle, Washington living on a houseboat, that must’ve been by their design, like they drew it in crayon and then it happened. Like the great tv architect, Mike Brady, I envisioned people mapping out their lives on a big white board with big important looking rulers.

Now that I’m an adult, I can see it’s less Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch and more Suzanne Sugarbaker from Designing Women. We aren’t designing our lives, not really. We’re decorating them.

Yes, you can move wherever you want. You can choose whatever profession you like and you might even be successful at it. But, we don’t start out as blank slates. We are born in certain areas, we have physical or mental limitations. We have family obligations and money issues and turns out there isn’t actually a cloud city I can move my flying Winnebego to or a lime green My Little Pony I can ride to work. Reality issues are a bitch.

I think the key is being okay with that and relishing being Delta Burke. Decorating the shit out of your existence. Sprinkling it with a pet or kids or a book club or a standing date with friends at a local pub. Taking the choices we actually do get to make and choosing them so so hard.  Choosing them with gusto and saying, “My life looks like this because I decided it would and not because I just ended up here.”

So maybe I wasn’t completely in control of my own mushroom house. But, I think Papa Smurf would dig what I’ve done with the place.

*photo from etsy.