Monday, January 26, 2009

What is a box? -- jcarolek

We moved to England when I was 10. "We" included Mom and Dad, my sister, one year my senior, my four younger brothers and our pet monkey, Chico. The plane ride over was, of course, an exciting one for us. All humans rode in the passenger section of the plane, and poor little Chico rode in the cargo section. When we arrived in London, we traveled by bus to Cheltenham, to the hotel where we'd stay while we awaited the delivery of our household goods and our move into our house on Griffiths Ave.

Staying in the hotel was a lot of fun, I admit, but getting into the house was more fun. The moving van arrived loaded with gigantic wooden crates from which our belongings were unloaded. Everything eventually found a home in our new house, and one of the moving crates found its way to our back yard.

To us, this moving crate made a perfect "club house." We positioned it in a little knoll of trees and set to getting it transformed into our vision with curtains on the little "window" we'd cut into one of the walls, and chairs and such. I don't really recall my sister playing with us there, but it is possible she did. I do remember playing with my brothers and the neighbor, green apple wars, and other imaginative games. My memory from 40 years ago may be somewhat suspect, but it seems we had that clubhouse for a good couple of years.

One day, we were playing in the clubhouse and our game had something to do with being on the ocean in a big ship. Having vast experience of sea-going vessels, we simulated the angry sea and the rocking boat, by flinging ourselves from one side of the crate to the other, slamming into the walls as we rode the ocean chop. It seems as if there were at least five of us playing this game and by the end of it, our club house was no more. We'd managed to knock the walls down with our enthusiasm and once we discovered what was happening, our game became one of pure destruction. We had a blast.

I don't recall cleaning up the broken club-house-fort-HMS ship.... I don't recall trying to resurrect the box that had provided us with so many hours of fun. Like all children, our imaginations took us on other journeys, leaving the remnants of the wooden crate for the next bonfire.

When my children were small we purchased the little playhouse that all children of their generation were gifted. This little playhouse sported bright colors, safely molded plastic sturdiness, and windows with shutters. Hammers and nails, saws and such were not necessary to form their little getaway. They did "collect" artificial flowers from the graveyard on our little dirt road and "planted" them around their little house in the woods. They did go there to play occasionally, but I noticed they didn't have the same passion for their little house as we had for ours.

I was just thinking about boxes tonight.... thinking about imagination and not boxing ourselves in. It took me back to the high seas of 41 Griffiths Ave, circa 1968.

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