Currently my husband and I are redecorating our library. I have climbed a giant ladders to paint a wall the turquoise of my dreams. Meanwhile Ryan and my dad have been building a wall of bookshelves 12 feet high. Soon I will even get a built in ladder for it. We are going straight up Beauty and the Beast palace library.
I have also done a bit too much premature online shopping for the room. Chairs and desks and end tables have already arrived in their giant cardboard boxes. Unfortunately since the library is still a construction zone my new furnishings have been relegated to the hallway and dining room until further notice.
Then yesterday I was looking longingly at my new treasures sitting there in their giant shipping boxes and it reminded me of my childhood. No, I wasn’t shipped in a box to a new family or anything. My dad worked in a store that sold large appliances. He would bring home the boxes from the floor models they had on display. Then when we had collected enough he would tape several boxes together making a sort of cardboard box maze fort that filled the living room.
Here is where it gets interesting. My mom would give us each steak knives, which thinking about it now seems horrifying to hand over a knife to a four year old, but ehh, it was the 1980’s, a simpler time. Anyway, my sister Julie and I, now armed, would enter out new fort and commence sawing away at the cardboard to make patio doors and windows. We had to be careful though because over zealous sawing with our knives caused the blades to get fiery hot. We would periodically saw like little women possessed and then touch our knives to see who could make theirs hotter. This was not a wise pursuit, but Julie and I found it riveting entertainment.
Once our doors and windows were constructed we would bring in the furnishing. Pillows, blankets, books, and stuffed animals were painstakingly dragged into our new abode. We would decorate the best we could, drawing pictures on the walls with magic markers until our fort was home sweet home. It was spectacular fun, with only a few drawbacks.
First being that we lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, which is about as far south as Texas goes. Thus our temperatures were never below seventy even in the dead of winter. To some this is paradise, but I assure you, if your are inside a fort, inside a house, you might beg to differ. The temperatures inside our cardboard paradise quickly rose to about the 80 degree mark. Then once we plugged up our rooms with our cozy blankets and pillows we would edge closer and closer to the 90’s. It turns out cardboard is a great insulator for holding in heat. No matter how many windows we cut it was never quite enough to allow for air flow to drop our temperatures down to a livable range. Thus our fort was good for only short vacations from the real world outside.
The second problem only became apparent a few days after our move in date. You see Corpus Christi was quite tropical. Not in the pretty sense of the word, more in the high humidity way. Which, apparently provides the perfect conditions for large flying cockroaches to live and reproduce in abundance. They were everywhere. My sister and I lived in constant fear of the flying critters. Unfortunately we learned the hard way that the roaches also thought our homemaking skills were spectacular.
After a few days the roaches would discover our fort and move in themselves. They would make themselves quite comfortable hiding amongst the books and blankets. This resulted in screams of terror from Julie and me as we would be in the midst of lounging in our new home only to have a giant roach scurry out of our blanket across our tummy. Or worse we would pick up books and a roach would crawl onto our arm. It was terrifying. We would scream and flail inside our boxes causing roach and book to fly off to destinations unknown. I can only imagine how much my mother must have laughed watching our boxes bounce and bend as we had conniptions from within. The most horrendous part was when in the midst of making an emergency exit to try to evade the intruder that had been cast off in the shuffle, you would accidentally squish it with your knee or hand as you crawled to safety. Once outside I would look at my knee wondering why it felt sticky only to discover half a roach smeared across it.
Other than the roaches and heat stroke our fort was a palace. Julie and I spent hours upon hours in playful bliss inside. I do think my new palace is better. Now I will have my own palace library and there is central A/C and pest control to boot. I’m living the dream.