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Jones, A.L. (2009). Playhouse Under the Porch. Psychoanal. Perspect., 6(1):83-84.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 6(1):83-84

Playhouse Under the Porch

Annie Lee Jones, Ph.D.

When I was little, we lived in a large two-story house on Hale Street in Augusta, Georgia. The house, way back from the road, was surrounded by wrought-iron fences and gates. Its two front porches sat tall and regal, almost majestic for that part of the town. As children, we grew up playing under the house, safe from the burning sun; living by day in an antebellum fantasy world that mimicked the life we imagined existed up on the hill. No matter how fresh the paint, intricate the wrought-ironwork, or white crisp and bright the curtains, we and our house were on the bottom, with the sun always rising up on the hill.

Play under the house was always cool and free, no match for the world outside the gates, but infused with our own take on the pleasures of living amongst the riches at once near and far.

Playing at being others turned out to be the best dress rehearsal for maintaining the double when we were no longer little girls, later, merging our selves into that otherness of a segregated world.

Jones' gift to the girls of the little brick playhouse under his house protected us, not only from the unbearableness of the oppressive heat of the Southern summer sun but also from despairing moments equally as oppressive. We stayed children longer than most we knew, in a safe space for our imaginations to grow.

Our little playhouse was at once an amazingly versatile rehearsal studio, its stage blazing with any and all props. In our playhouse, racial oppression dressed down; dignity and grace always wore the best gowns.

Our extraordinary world of dreams and fantasy allowed us to bear the oppressive heat of Deep South summers, mostly spent outdoors, properly away from the talk of grown folks' business.

There were those good times when the early-morning sun heralded our best performances, aided and abetted by our mother's steady hand.

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