My Coronavirus Dollhouse
Back in 1975, my baby sister got a dollhouse for Christmas.
It was a classic white clapboard house with a black shingled roof and black shutters. It had eight good size rooms and was a replica of the house she lived in, so I dubbed it “The Blind Brook House.”
I was a Delta flight attendant, living in Miami at the time, but thirteen hundred miles didn’t stop me from being obsessed with all things dollhouse. That Christmas, I spent a fortune on furniture for Blind Brook and spent countless hours helping my sister set it all up.
I loved that dollhouse more than she did, and for whatever reason, it never caught her attention. By the following Christmas, it was relegated to the attic, where it languished for sixteen years.
In 1991, when the attic got cleaned out, the house was rediscovered, and I became the proud owner of the Blind Brook homestead.
The dollhouse was dirty and cobwebby and needed a paint job. My daughter was three years old at the time, and I figured she would love it. But like my sister, she didn’t have much of an interest in it at all.
Ironically, it was my seven-year-old son who loved Blind Brook. He helped me paint, carpet, and install stairs. We cleaned off all the furniture and set up the rooms according to his layout.
Soon after, my son lost interest in the dollhouse. So once again, it ended up in an attic—this time mine.
When we moved in 1996, the dollhouse was yet again rediscovered.
I wasn’t sure where we would put it, or if we even had room for it, but there was never a doubt in my mind that the Blind Brook house was coming with me.
At the time I dusted it off, and even though it needed a paint job, no one was interested in working on it with me, so I stuck it on a table in my daughter’s room with the front of the house facing forward, and we all forgot about it.
In 2017, my two granddaughters discovered the house and asked me what was behind the front door.
They were obsessed with it and wanted me to turn it around so they could see it from the back. I had all but forgotten that the house was full of furniture, and they loved it.
My oldest granddaughter wanted to know where the family was. Had they gone out? What did they look like? How many were there? Was there a cat?
I’m not sure why, but Blind Brook never had a family in it. Or any pets.
The strangest part is that I never even noticed the house was without a family, nor did anyone ever ask for one.
But my precious granddaughter wanted a family in that house, so I ordered one online—a mom, a dad, a little boy, a little girl, and a newborn baby.
The next time my granddaughter played with the house, she asked for a cat. So, I ordered a kitten. And a dog.
Fast forward to January 2020, when my husband and I bought her a dollhouse of her own. And she insisted that I buy her the exact family I had in my dollhouse. And of course, a cat of her own. And a kitty.
I was so looking forward to playing dollhouse with her. But then life changed, and all we could do was Zoom.
I began to look at Blind Brook from a whole other perspective. I was in quarantine, and so was my Blind Brook family.
As news of the virus got worse, I pulled out walls, and the staircase, to make larger rooms so that more people could fit into them.
While ordering corona supplies on Amazon, I threw in a miniature television and water cooler for my dollhouse. I wasn’t able to find real-people toilet paper, so I ordered lots and lots of miniature toilet paper instead.
Then the coronavirus spiraled out of control and took my Aunt Mary.
She was buried on my birthday.
I went online and ordered more people—an aunt, an uncle, three babies, and a girl cousin.
My Blind Brook family didn’t have to worry about ventilators, masks, or the lack of federal government leadership.
As I listened to the grimmest of reports day in and day out, I would take a daily reprieve from reality. With scissors, glue, and tape in hand, I went into fantasy mode.
I couldn’t do anything about the horrors outside my house, but I was in complete control of Blind Brook.
I added lighting and wallpaper, flooring, books, a dining room table, dishes, sandwiches, a menorah, bowls of tomato soup, and some beer on ice.
I tried to stay away from the news and binged on Dead To Me. By the time I finished Season Two, we were at 100,000 dead.
What could I do? What could I do to take control?
I put my dollhouse-sized Teri doppelganger in the Blind Brook television room and invited my friend, Robin, and my sister G for some wine, cheese, and potato chips. I sat back with Robin and we watched Dead To Me together, side by side, while my animal-loving sis played with the kitten.
But the lonely would not go away.
so I went for a bike ride and wore a mask, but I couldn’t breathe.
Build a fire. Think happy thoughts.
And then came the murder of George Floyd. He couldn’t breathe either.
But not because of some stupid mask.
I shut down and drank too much wine.
I installed windows in every Blind Brook room to let in the light, and I bought a kitchen clock and a grandma and grandpa.
As the protests raged, I sat on the floor, staring at my therapeutical masterpiece.
I noticed that the clock on the wall was set for 8:18. Or was it 8:17?
At 1:12 scale, it was near impossible to decipher the exact time. I wanted it to be 8:18. For anyone who knows me, 18 is my go-to number.
When I messengered a friend about the systemic pandemic within a pandemic and my thoughts on 8:18 vs. 8:17, she quoted Luke 8:17:
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
That’s when I decided to pull myself together. I reminded myself that I had come out the other end of a lot of bad stuff.
I was a warrior.
Covid-19 wasn’t going to be the straw that broke my back.
So, I added another six women, two men, a dog, a birdhouse, and a teenage girl who’s still on backorder along with my real-people toilet paper.
It finally felt like enough.
Blind Brook was full of family and friends. Lots of togetherness despite my fourteen weeks in isolated quarantine.
My sister Georgette thinks my dollhouse needs its own Instagram account.
I love Blind Brook, but I’m ready for a real life again.