Once upon a time it occurred to seven-year-old Amy that a purge was coming. These happened at regular intervals, when Amy’s wise mother went through the tiny house and got rid of the toys that weren’t being played with, so there would be room for new toys. Amy, however, was something of a packrat. She hated getting rid of things.
Now, Amy had realized that if the toy resided in her bed, Mom would not get rid of it. (Simple logic here is that this kind woman had no interest in getting rid of toys her children really treasured, and dolls you sleep with are the most treasured of them all. However, this sort of sense did not interfere with young Amy’s logic.) Casting her eyes about she realized that maybe she hadn’t played with her D.W. doll enough lately. D.W. had been a present for her fifth birthday from Mom and Dad. What if D.W. was given away?! This called for an emergency response.
Not wanting to risk anything, she brought D.W. to bed that night and D.W. has never left since.
Growing up, I had many treasured dolls and each one developed their own personality in my mind. My American Girl doll Felicity was bookish, and Addy was a tomboy. Ruth and Rachel had survived since babyhood and rested in wise old age. Pinkie was… well, Pinkie.
D.W. however was particularly special. She was very different from her TV personality on Arthur. If you had asked me what she liked, I would have told you ballet and sandwiches. Ballet because her gray shoes were obviously made for dancing (though I did often wish they were pink instead of gray). Sandwiches because her triangular hands just looked like they could hold dainty, tea-time sandwiches. (I know you don’t see it, but believe me, I did!)
When I fell asleep at night, I secretly believed that if I squeezed her tight, D.W.released a glitter-like sleeping potion that would help me fall asleep faster. It felt like magic, and I loved it.
The Lord only knows how many times D.W. made the trip under the bathroom sink. As a kid, I liked to think she had her own little D.W.-sized restroom under there. I would open the cupboard door and fling her in, retrieving her later when I remembered. Unfortunately I did not always remember. One particularly memorable day I was headed to my cousin’s house for a sleepover. We turned my house upside down to find D.W. and send her along with me, but D.W. was nowhere to be found! I was finally shipped off, sad and alarmed at not having my trusted friend by my side. Mom called me the next morning after she went to clean the bathroom. Why was my doll with the cleaning supplies….?
Moments like those are very difficult to explain, even if you are a kid.
After 16 years, it is easy to forget what a favorite doll looked like “new.” Discovering the almost untouched twin of D.W. at the library came as a shock to me. Had D.W. really been that fluffy and pink once upon a time? By now even the hair colors were different shades! As I began taking pictures of them side by side, the differences became that much more evident. The one is squashed and worn, the other bright and new. I almost felt sad for my D.W. When I looked into their eyes, though, I saw the real difference.
MY D.W.’s eyes are chipped. They’ve practically developed their own pupils. The new D.W.’s eyes were perfectly round…and covered in dust.
When I looked at those two faces side by side, I saw the face of a friend and that of a stranger. Chipped, pilled, and cracked as she is, my D.W. has been a constant companion for 16 years. She joined me on all my adventures as a kid and suffered all sorts of random abuses (like the bathroom cupboard.) She provided the magic sleeping dust to make me fall asleep faster and helped guard me from monsters in the closet. She came with me to Tennessee and remained a tangible link with home when I was homesick. My D.W. is well cherished and shows it.
The library’s D.W., the “new” one, has presumably sat untouched a shelf for 16 years. Although she remains as beautiful as her first day from the factory, she is unknown to any child. Few people even see her as she sits in her swing over the children’s books. I think the librarians forgot about her.
Seeing those two D.W. dolls, I’m reminded of how much my dolls meant to me growing up. Dolls are a girl’s first playmates. They stay constant and true, no matter how many years pass. Signs of wear and tear mark them as yours. My D.W. is mine. “New” D.W. … well, she’s anyone’s. And no one’s. Her eyes may be perfectly round, but they are blind and covered in dust. Those eyes have never helped a little girl look into herself as she grows up. And that is a tragedy for a doll.