For as long as I can remember, I’ve named all my dolls Susan. Strange right? Especially since I had no idea why I persisted in naming all of them Susan. It’s not like I got rid of Susan 1 then received Susan 2 into my life. Nope the susans were concurrent. At one time I had as many as four or five susans lined up along a shelf or shoved in a drawer.
There is one exception. I formally named (there was a certificate and everything) my second Cabbage Patch Kid Augustina. She was “born” Augusta. But when I adopted her (through the formal Cabbage Patch Adoption system) the six year old me couldn’t bear to have a doll with such a hideous name, so I changed it.
At the time I wanted to use a name that was close to her original name to give her some sense of permanence considering the trauma she must have felt in losing her “birth” family. (I know, deep…and possibly troubled.) So Augusta with her blond braids and bright blue eyes became Augustina and shamefully was less loved than my other dolls who were all properly named Susan.
The reason I’m sharing this somewhat strange susan habit is that I’ve finally discovered the reason and it all comes down to books. While reading The WIlder Life, an autobiography of a woman’s open and proud obsession with Little House, I remembered (or rather read) that the Little House Laura had a doll named…Susan. With that memory came a certainty that Laura Ingalles Wilder is the reason for my susan obsession. I don’t think I ever consciously decided to imitate her but I know that the books had a deep impact on my life and I know now that’s why I’ve named every doll Susan ever since. It just feels true.
As a child I would have given just about anything to live in Laura’s world, or for that matter Anne’s world, or Dorothy’s world. Every book I loved just ended too soon. There never seemed to be enough story to satisfy me. I’m strangely happy to think that books have effected my life so profoundly. I hope one day I have the chance to impact someone’s life that way.
NB. Am I the only one who remembers the Barbapapas? I was accused of having hoarding tendencies for wanting to buy a piece of Barbapapa memorabilia the other day. But I ask you, who wouldn’t want a glass Barbapapa bottle in which to store all your important fluids…or buttons…or something less weird. Pretend I said something less weird.
Sharing: – A friend suffered a loss the other day. I wrote the following poem for their card and thought I’d share. It was inspired by my favourite poem with the sentiment that love is not lost with those we love.
I once feared the passage of time after loss.
That an imperfect memory would fade.
So in fear I held them, knuckles white, visiting each memory through aching muscle.
But each visit I knew my efforts were not enough. They were slipping, silk on silk. I mourned my failure.
Then the moments came.
A china cup with Alice in pastels. She’d have rolled her eyes.
A glass of wine tipped onto linen. She’d have been so mad.
The scent of rain-wet sage. She’d have yelled, “Window’s wide!”
And she was there. Not the white knuckle moments. Not the days I feared to lose, but her. In everything.
And I smiled.
And I grieved.
And it was ok.
Love does not fade in the sun.
Love is not lost in the dark.
Love, in the most fragile vessel, could never spill.
In The Wilder Life, Wendy McClure describes Laura World, the place the author and reader of the Little House series create in thier minds to support the story and their own fantasies. I’ve had very clear Laura World moments playing in creeks and pretending I could trip out of my life and onto the prairie. I’d romanticized the prairies to such a point that when I first saw a tumble weed I shrieked in excitement (I was in my 20s).
Think back to your favourite book as a child. Did you dream about entering Narnia or OZ? Did you imagine you could step back in time to visit Laura or another period in history? Imagine that you had that opportunity. What would you do? Would you try to go native and live the life as the characters had? Or, would you be a powerful “wizard” who brought technology and ideas from our reality into the story world? Step into that world and write what you find. Happy writing.