The House I Built My Inner Child

Mind the glitter.

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Image for post
The house from Practical Magic. A good reference point.

My inner child lives in my subconscious. She has for quite awhile. She’s very small and she has brown hair but no glasses — she can see just fine. She loves to read and make a mess and play in dirt. I built a house for her because I started going to see her, and I didn’t like where she was being kept. I decided to put her somewhere new. A place she’d love, full of specificity and Christmas lights and chocolate milk. I built her a house.

Imagine a dollhouse, then blow it up in size so that a six year old can reach everything without help. Imagine rooms full of books and art supplies and a theater room that plays Lady & The Tramp on repeat. In any one of her bedrooms there’s a canopy bed with bunting made of lights that turn off as soon as she falls asleep. The ceiling looks like the night sky and she always wakes at sunrise. The cats and dogs have their own quarters, though they rarely use them. Every room in the house has a fireplace that never needs tending to. Her favorite is the one in the bathroom.

The tub is the size of a king size bed. It’s always full of as many bubbles as she wants and the water never gets cold. Her soap smells like strawberry Jolly Ranchers and her hair air dries in seconds. She bathes while sitting in a pink inner tube when she’s feeling fancy, and her name is spelled out in penny tiles on the floor. She can watch cartoons if she likes.

The floors are as follows: A basement, for storage, large-scale finger painting, and ballet. A main floor housing the sitting room, the ballroom, the library, the dining room, where the table is always set with mac-n-cheese and Shirley Temples bubbling in coup glasses. There’s a big kitchen, adjoining conservatory, a pantry, and a mudroom, for boots.

The second floor contains all the bedrooms and bathrooms and closets, both for her and her dolls. A bay window rests on the landing and is used primarily for reading during both day and evening hours. The third floor is the attic, completely finished and furnished and used primarily for play. An impressive dress up wardrobe sits at the south end of the room and there’s a trampoline nearby. On the north end there is a narrow staircase leading to her watchtower. The owls live there and often report to her on the news of the day.

The season is fall. It’s always warm inside and cool outside, but never so cold that she has a runny nose when she goes out to play. She wears sweaters and jeans and galoshes most of the time. She can draw on her clothing with markers whenever she wants and she never has to hide her Halloween costume with a coat. No one makes her brush her hair. She collects persimmons and acorns and other flora during her exploratory missions outdoors in a backpack that was fashioned from a bicycle basket.

The grounds are really important. The house sits inside the stone walls of an English Garden, for security purposes. The garden itself surrounds the house on three sides and contains multiple fountains and vestibules made of stone and shrubs. The rose thorns don’t hurt. There’s a lake at the edge of the garden so she can go swimming. There’s nothing scary living in the water at all. The east side of the garden is entirely edible and prominently features grapefruit. The apple varietals change daily. Just past the ferris wheel is the entrance gate, made of iron in an art deco shell pattern. No one is allowed inside.

She’s kept company by her menagerie of animals, all of whom live under her roof and require minimal care, apart from grooming which she doesn’t mind. All of her possessions can speak when she’s in need of conversation and her clocks never make scary sounds. There are no little brothers here.

Regarding artwork, it’s mostly her own, coupled with framed trinkets and mementos acquired over the years. I gave her my framed collection of tickets from that one year we couldn’t stop going to see The Matrix. All of the mirrors are vintage and she never sees anything scary in them behind her. All of the wallpaper is toile and any furniture with legs rests on gold paws. The disco ball never needs polishing.

She’s happy here. Very content, amply entertained, and soundly safe. Every need is met, every idea is explored, and every aptitude and interest is nurtured and encouraged. When I think of her, when I wonder how she’s doing, I know she’s here and pleasantly occupied, casually waiting for me to come down. We have tea or just eat whipped cream out of a big silver bowl and talk to each other for awhile. And when I leave, and go back to life on the main plane, I’m happier knowing she’s happy, knowing she’s not only where she needs to be, but also where she wants to be, and I think that bodes well for us both.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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