Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Enamored of Outbuildings

This phrase has been circling through my brain for the last little while, and it describes my condition perfectly. I am enamored of outbuildings, longing for a barn, a pole barn, an unused chicken coop, or a tool shed that I could claim for my own. Alas, I live in town with a small yard and a lone utility shed out back that my husband built and claimed for storing tools and yard stuff.

I grew up on farms, lived in places that always had all the buildings listed above, plus a few more. We had a woodshed, a smokehouse, a milk house, and an old lean-to in one of the barnyards. I am accustomed to having an abundance of outbuildings, places that could be used for any purpose we came up with.

When I was little, I had a playhouse in the front of the woodshed. A place where I could decorate, cook mud pies, tend to my doll family and play house with my friends and even my brother when he could be coerced into it. Of course, he always got to be "Dad" and go out to work in the field or to his job in another part of the yard. I was the one staying in my house and hanging plastic curtains up in the open window or rearranging the pieces of leftover furniture and boxes that furnished my house.

So why am I enamored of these buildings now, now that I am a grown woman, a woman who plays house for real, whose children are grown and gone, a woman who theoretically has her own real house with space to use as she will?

My longing on the surface is just for more space, space where I can set up a craft room, or an exercise room, or a writing studio or a meditation space or a barn big enough to contain all these functions. That sounds like paradise to me. I want space to spread out, to sprawl, to unfold all my collections from their imprisoning boxes or the piles stacked in every available corner of my house. A place of my own, where I can leave out the current or not so current projects that I might be working on. Or thinking about. Or just like to see. So many times for me it is out of sight, out of mind. If I had a huge barn, I could keep everything out everywhere.

I used to envy the host on the show "Collector Inspector." He lived in an old 1960's schoolhouse with long halls and many rooms and he had walls of shelves with all his collections grouped, arranged and displayed like those in a museum or second hand store. I loved that house and that man—I think I wanted to be him!

I read magazines now like "Where Women Create" and "Studios." I see all the creative spaces that current artists, painters, quilters, collagers, writers, and designers use. Each space is as individual and quirky as the person using it is. Some pages I return to again and again. I think, "I could do that!" Or, "Oh, how wonderful!" I want a space of my own, just like they have.

After writing about the outbuildings of my childhood though, I think that the childhood feeling is a big part of longing for my own shed. Yes, I could keep my stuff out there, or I could be like the famous and not so famous writers who go out to the shed every day to write or meditate. So grown up. Yet going out to that shed of my own would revive that feeling of having a special place, a place all my own, that feeling of being young with a life full of possibilities ahead of me, a life where I could make those fantasies come true. I want that feeling of largess, of boundless possibilities. And that is why, right now, I am enamored of outbuildings.

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