We found the dollhouse on Christmas Eve Eve 2018 while winding along a seldom traveled back road. There she sat at the bottom of a driveway whose house was entirely obscured by steeply climbing woods; a free sign was taped loosely to her canary yellow front. The roof was in need of repair and nearly half of the shutters were missing, both surely swept away from their former glory in fantastic moments of play years earlier. Barbie's face smiled up at me from a sparkling sticker on the living room wall as I considered the dollhouse's odd angles and ragged edges, the necessary rehab it would have to undergo. It seemed ridiculous- and not only because it would barely fit in the back of my car.
I don't feel completely comfortable engaging in acts of the future as a foster parent, a mix of moral obligation and respect, nerves and self-preservation. All that there is is Now- and a down on her luck dollhouse for a baby who wasn't ours in any real sense, who had just barely scraped her way to 5 pounds, it was all anything but Now. But hadn't we just picked up and left our old homestead, a place we loved bone deep, for this scrappy little baby we loved so dearly? Sunk it all in a house that had enough bedrooms to ensure she wouldn't be moved from our care once she was a year old (should she still be in state care)? That I hadn't hemmed and hawed over, but here on the side of the road, snow pricking the exposed skin of my face, the dollhouse sent me into a fit of mental thrashing.
I barely considered the dollhouse for the last two years. It sat in the loft of our barn, playing intermittent host to enterprising vermin who made their stays known in little heaps of shredded paper and discarded acorns. It was never a thing forgotten, but rather a thing that inhabited a world we did not- at least not until recently. Two years ago in the mess of peeling wallpaper and rough cut windows, on the side of the road in a not entirely committed December snow, I saw a gift for our daughter, for the moment when the words our daughter meant something in worlds outside the heart. This year we're adopting our Nora. In lieu of the party I'd like to throw her (and us!)- a dollhouse. A house for Nora, the second crumbling castle seized under the banner of her name, forever and ever.