Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Box City

This is my garage. Since we moved, I have been saving as many of the cardboard boxes as possible, so that my garage could be turned into a Box City for a brief, shining moment. There were boxes from new toilets, a new dishwasher, wardrobe boxes (complete with metal rods to hold clothing on hangers), book boxes, long and thin boxes from pendant lamps, and many, many more. I'd been waiting until our girls' friend Maile, an accomplished artist in the realm of Hobo huts and recycled materials, to visit. Finally, when she came to stay with us for a whole weekend, the boxes came to life in the form of Willow City.

The girls have Hobo aliases -- Gibble, Derk, Chille, and Milli -- which seem to allow them to fully inhabit the spirit of the boxes, bringing forth the mysteries that are pressed into the corrugation and dried tree pulp. As I showed them the boxes I'd been saving, Maile/Gibble thoughtfully listed the additional tools that they'd need: heavy scissors, strong tape, sharpies. Eyeing a pile of plastic sheeting and bubble wrap, she said, "Can we use those, too?"

"All yours," I said. And then they went to town.

Once the Hobos created their own dwellings (Chille's apartment had an outer garden with a fence and chalk-drawn flowers), they decided to create a City Hall in the middle. Gibble taped boxes together to create a stately building and then a clock tower to its right. There were tunnels with skylights/look-out stations connecting the various buildings. It was as well-planned and executed as any city I'd seen in real life, only Hobo-fied.

The girls worked for hours on Willow City, and wanted to sleep in it, which didn't happen. They played there all day Saturday, breaking only for food and swimming and trampolines, then several hours on Sunday. The kids worked so hard on Willow City that I'm reluctant to dismantle it, even though Emme said it's fine to let it all go. I guess some forms of housing are meant to be temporary, as our Hobo friends show us. Sometimes, it's the simple fact of creating that is important, not the holding on.

I'll let go of Willow City. Maybe tomorrow.


  1. I love this line: "Sometimes, it's the simple fact of creating that is important, not the holding on."

  2. Oh, Man...How fun is it being a kid!! Thanks again for watching the kids. We had a fun time in Las Vegas. I can't wait until Nov!!1