When I was a child I had a play house in our back yard. In it's previous life it had been some sort of shed, but my father had turned it's care over to me. I would spend countless hours there in my own little fantasy world. I would cook dinner for my "husband" and "children" or sit at the table having coffee with my friends. Sometimes I had just gotten home from a long day at whatever fabulous career I currently had. That play house was my sanctuary. When I walked through the door nothing mattered any longer. It was my world. Mean kids at school disappeared, replaced by beautiful children who wanted to be my bestest friend forever. I poured my heart and soul into that house. I decorated it, cleaned it, and made it the most beautiful place in the entire world.
My family moved from that house years ago, the summer after my fourth grade year. I remember watching my play house through the back window of my parents station wagon, seeing it grow smaller and smaller until it vanished from my site forever. I was heart broken over my loss. I felt as though my secret spot had been pulled from my grasp and now I was left only with a disappointing reality of a new school complete with new mean kids.
A couple of years ago my husband and I were visiting my parents and going through albums of old photos. My past was opening up before our eyes as the air filled with stories of my youth and the dust of forgotten memories. I scoured the albums, searching for only one thing. Photos of my beloved playhouse. I wanted him to see it in all it's glory. I wanted to imprint it's beauty into his mind the same way it was in mine. I wanted our future daughter to have one just like it, to fill with all of her hopes and dreams. And finally, there it was!
I never realized how different memory and reality can be. I was stunned as my eyes scanned the pages. This was my magnificent playhouse? This broken down shed with a hole in the roof? This dirt floor with weeds growing on it was my kitchen floor of sparkling tile? But I had mopped it every day! The table that I ate dinner at with my "family" wasn't much of a table at all. It was a couple of pieces of wood sitting on top of old paint cans. Tacked to the walls were scraps of fabric and crudely drawn landscapes. Broken "treasures" completed my decorating job. And there, in the midst of all that rubbish sat a dark haired little girl, her face covered in the largest smile I'd ever seen. Excitement shone from her eyes, eyes that did not see the reality that surrounded her. Instead they saw only the beauty that her mind created.
I sat there, frozen with shock. My mind attempting to grasp and comprehend the images I was seeing. This wasn't what I remembered, this was the opposite of that. I didn't know what to say, I was embarrassed and confused. As the tears filled my eyes and threatened to begin their journey down my cheeks, my husband gently took my hand. "It's splendid," he whispered as he pulled me closer, "I hope that our daughter has one exactly like it."
It was that day that I really learned how much we create our own reality. Something that little girl understood at a young age, but then misplaced as life sunk it's cruel claws into her dreams. It did not matter what my play house really looked like, what mattered was how I had seen it. The fact that I was able to use my imagination to create the perfect retreat. A retreat that I made so many precious memories in, memories that I will carry with me forever. That remind me, our life is what we make of it.