a desk, a cat, and dolls

Page Fifty-nine

Thursday 4 March 2010      Turners Fell

Early this morning my mind was wandering over various memories of my own life (as always), and I landed on dolls. I’ve always loved dolls of many different kinds, and when I was 10 or 12 I started a doll collection for myself. The dolls came from some youth catalog I used to get. They were plastic, the size of a Barbie doll, all the faces were the same, and they cost $3 or something like that. I was dazzled by them. They came in cheap but flashy costumes from all over the world. I’d save my allowance and buy myself one every now and then. Maybe I accumulated 5 all together before I got on to a new interest for my money.

So, years pass, and I’m 33 years old, living in Turners for slightly over a year. One weekend when my mother comes to visit, she has with her an inexpensive ($20) porcelain doll. The doll is all dressed for winter in a red

velvet coat and cape, a white fur muff and hat, and white fur trim on her coat.  My mother announces that this is the first doll in the doll collection she’s going to give me, since she couldn’t afford one when I was younger. I thought it was one of the nicest things my mother had ever done for me, and it was her own idea, nothing that I’d asked for. But I didn’t say this to her. I was a very locked-in person for many years, and didn’t talk much about things in my heart. Was this because of Asperger’s, or because of the often explosive nature of my family life? I don’t know for sure what caused it, but I’ve often wondered whether those seeds of destruction that were always in my human family might not have grown into such bitter weeds if I had managed to unlock myself many years before I did. Would it have made a difference in what happened to my family later? I don’t know for sure, of course, but I wonder. And probably one person all alone (even if I had been able to unlock myself earlier) cannot save a family.

So the dolls kept coming. Every Christmas at first. Then every Christmas and every birthday. Eventually Easter was added. They came from 1986 through 1996, and there were 18-20 of them. They also  became a good deal more expensive. I bought one or two myself along the way.

At Christmas 1997 I was living with my parents again briefly, and found a psychological horror show there in that house that I’d never expected, even in light of knowing my family’s foibles all my life. Part of my mother’s attack on me at that time was not to give the Christmas doll. It was going to be the one and only bright spot to a Yule that was blacker than any I’d ever had to that point, and it didn’t come. And though I’d had a whole lot of other messages from my mother to say that I had become a loathed creature in her eyes, the failure of the doll to come at Christmas was the thing that finally got that message across to me one hundred percent.

I no longer have them. Three of those many dolls are in my storage unit, and that’s it.  All but those three had had to be left behind when I moved back here to Turners in 1998. Almost everything I owned was left behind. I escaped with little more than my animals, and they, of course, were the most important thing.

The photo is my cat Chan at age 11 months, who loved to get up and sit on that desk with that group of dolls (there were more dolls in other rooms). It was late 1996. We lived at Six N Street in Turners. My mother hadn’t totally crashed and burned yet, and I still had a human family in a certain fragile way. The dolls are gone. The desk is gone.  That apartment is gone. And Chan was one of the animals taken from me on 12 March 2008, and executed two weeks later at the local animal “shelter” when he was 12 years old. They killed him, they told me, because he “wasn’t very friendly.” You can click here to the Stolen Animals page of my website to see another photo of Chan. Here to read more about my human family. Not light reading, to be sure.

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Postscript:  Even the desk the dolls and the cat are sitting on was something I wanted to keep my life long. The bedroom furniture that my siblings and I had had always been used items that my father would paint to match each other. But when we were pre-teenish, Mum got a better job and suddenly decided to buy us each some furniture that was brand new and that matched. I got the French provincial. A chair and desk and dresser that matched. It was another of my mother’s rare ideas that she came to all on her own without any of us asking for it. I was thrilled with that furniture, and was still using it in my forties, when this picture was taken. I still miss it. It’s all old and careworn now, drawers sticking, etc. But I love it because it was a surprise, and it was my mother’s own idea for her children, and because it came from the heart. Will I ever see it again?

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