I’d give up certain types of chocolate to live in a minimalist box like you see in the pages of DWELL magazine. Walls of glass, no clutter, nothing but a Barcelona chair in a room… Sometimes children appear in these photos, but come on, we know the truth: those kids are rented. Living minimally with children is impossible.
Still, I can dream. And I can visit the Eames House whenever I want.
As a lover of mid-century modern architecture, I have dreamt of visiting this house for years. Somehow, I failed to coordinate a day to go with my grownup friends so I figured I’d just take my kids. Look at those faces. What could go wrong?
They don’t just let you walk around the interior of the house, of course. Even members only get to tour the interior once a year. Private tours for generous donors are given by appointment, but I could only afford the $10, self-guided tour of the exterior. The one where you press your nose up against the glass, imagine yourself living there and drool.
Turns out, the exterior is a lot of fun. The girls loved running around in the meadow. Vivi discovered an old tree house, walked on tree stumps and played Wizard of Oz “poppies” in a bed of nasturtiums.
And it was gooooood mud. Your feet sank into it and made a “sluck!” sound when you pulled your shoes out of it. Like dental impressions. There’s Vivi’s pink high tops getting nice and mucky right there.
I was hoping for another run around the meadow to get the mud off, but Vivi had other, more subversive intentions.
The door to the main house was wide open. Inside, a stylish docent led a small group on a private tour. I imagine they paid a lot of money and waited a long time to get inside the house. I watched Vivi eyeballing the open door. “Stay close to Mommy, Vivi,” I said. “You may not go inside.”
But in her squishy, developing brain that 2-year-old did not hear my English words. What she heard was the starting gun of a foot race. Piew! She was off like a shot. RUNNING STRAIGHT INTO THE EAMES HOUSE.
Each muddy step destroyed the white carpet underfoot. (Of all the colors carpet could be? White?!) So I’m chasing her, straight into the heart of this American landmark, and I’m pissed off yes, but I am also slightly demented so it occurs to me: I AM IN THE EAMES HOUSE! At once, mortified and electrified. For a fraction of a nano second I was a guest of Charles and Ray. Martinis in hand, we chatted about our collaboration on a book about homemaking and design. But my fantasy ceased when Vivi ceased running. Feeling the heat of a dozen eyes on us, I scooped her up and carried her out under my arm, our sloppy tracks marking our journey in both directions.
During the time my head was hung in shame I noticed something: the white “carpet” was actually a drop cloth. Museum people aren’t dumb.
“I am so, so sorry,” I said as the docent ushered us out.
“I’ll just keep this door shut now,” She said. And she did.
Still, despite the closed door, I felt the need to turn her frown upside down. “Well, good thing for that drop cloth!” I yelled cheerily.
If you think my advice to you is to leave your kids at home when visiting historic landmarks, you’re wrong. Totally bring your kids! My two-year-old wanted something and she got it. She took life by the gumballs. She leaned WAY in. If it hadn’t been for her I might never have had my cocktail moment with the Eames’. (Hey, I think our book idea has legs!)
More importantly, I realized I need to act more like a 2-year-old in my adult life.
“Come on, girls,” I said, wiping my shoes off on the grass. “Let’s go get some ice cream.”