I visited my parent's house this past Saturday and explored my old closet. This is where they store a lot of my childhood things. It's a walk-in closet so there is plenty of room for all the little bits of my youth that I don't have space for in my apartment. It has a bookshelf of Japanese comics, a tower full of old CDs, a dresser filled with old sketchbooks and yearbooks, my prom dress, and a never finished Viking ship model. What caught my attention during this visit was my handmade three-story (four if you include the attic) dollhouse.
I built this dollhouse with my father when I was around eight years old. It was one of those kits you buy at the hobby shop and that had to be hand-painted, glued, and everything. My father was/is a big hobby guy, so when we finished this house, it had stained wood floors, wall paper, carpet, a mailbox, an attic door, furniture, and individual shingles. I'm surprised he didn't figure out a way to give it electricity.
Anyway, I digress. The dollhouse is pretty amazing. And whenever I look at the dollhouse or any of my childhood toys, I reminisce about the joys that were had when playing with them. And then I wonder, what is different now that I can't play with them anymore? When did I stop playing with toys? Maybe around junior high when I had more friends, took an interest in boys, and watched more TV?
Seriously, I had some crazy imagination back then. I had the most intricate scenarios for my dollhouse family. Crazy stuff would happen. Someone would get lost, a cousin was mysteriously murdered, a dark plague was coming to wipe out the world... all sorts of things.
Where did that ability go? It's something I ponder about sometimes. I remember once when I was visiting my parents' house, I took out the dollhouse and attempted to play. I tried to start a story with the toys, but as soon as I started, I realized that it wasn't working. I felt like a silly grown up with some serious issues.
I brought up this question to a friend of mine recently: When does your ability to play go away and why? It's not because you lose imagination. Lord knows I still have plenty. She suggested that maybe when we get older we start to channel that ability into our minds and it turns into day dreaming.
I'm sure there's a lot of research about this. I feel like making up stories was a lot easier as a kid. When I'm trying to write stories for comics these days, I wish I was eight again. I had so many ideas back then... maybe not good ideas, but still!
Have anyone else ever thought about this?