730 Days Gone

18 Jul

I wrote this on July 15, 2016, on the Second Death Aniversary of my father.

The Home Above

Two years ago, while my sister Jas and I were going through boxes of old papers, a single letter fell on the ground. It was a letter from the Carmelite missionaries, dated July 15, 1978, saying that July 16 was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I told Jas about it, wondering at the coincidence and pondering on the importance of this unexpected discovery. It turned out to be Daddy’s last day. A week later, I found a stash of old cards we gave Daddy, and this was in them. I think Daddy was sending us a message. I know for sure he is in heaven now.

It was late on a rainy night much like this two years ago when Daddy left us. Alphonse, normally in bed and asleep by ten, could not sleep that particular night. He paced around the room, restless and seemingly bothered. We tried to appease him by blowing bubbles with him, an activity that almost always soothes him, but he angrily shooed us away.

When the phone rang twice at 11:00 pm, Alphonse stopped walking around the room. He stood near the foot of our bed, transfixed and silent. When I put down the phone, he seemed relieved. Then, without fuss, he allowed himself to be led to his bed by his brother. I often wonder about this night, how Alphonse seemed to know of or sense Daddy’s passing even before the call came. Daddy passed away sometime after ten in the evening, alone in his room in a private care facility in Taguig.

I broke the news to our mom as soon as the call came. She started wailing loudly, her heartbroken sobs interrupted only by the anger and blame she directed at me. I stopped her from going to the facility that night. There was a storm coming, I told her repeatedly. I promised we would all go back when the storm had abated. How was I to know?

At one in the morning, amid strong rains that whipped and lashed at our convoy of vehicles, we made a slow, sad trek back to Quezon City with Daddy. We finished signing papers at two in the morning. The funeral staff had brought him to the preparation room but they allowed us access to him. Daddy was soft, but cold. He smelled faintly of baby powder and dried blood. The attendants had wiped Daddy’s face clean and we kissed him on the cheeks and forehead. We held his smooth, cold hands one last time. And then we left him lying in a metal slab, a white cotton sheet tucked around him as if he were sleeping.

The power was out when we returned home. It was going to be light soon but we needed to rest our weary bodies and troubled minds. My husband and I tumbled into bed and fell asleep, my fingers knotted in his. I closed my eyes and willed myself not to cry. There were still so many things to think of. I made a mental list of them, going through each item over and over again until sleep finally came.

Hours later, I woke up unexpectedly from my dreamless slumber as I felt a cold chill pass through me. Sometime during the early hours of morning, A♥ had let go of my hand and rolled over in a fetal position, his back to me. I turned over to reach out to him but in the darkness, I saw my dad lying between us. Daddy seemed to be just sleeping. I’m a self-confessed scaredy cat but somehow, I didn’t feel scared; I felt comforted. I stared at the figure before me and whispered “Let’s rest na, Dad.” I rubbed my eyes of their tears and closed them again.

Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) made landfall in Metro Manila early that morning, leaving much of the city in shambles and without power. The rains fell without let-up but Mom, A♥, and I needed to brave the downpour for one more errand. Daddy needed new clothes. All his old ones were much too big for him. He had lost so much weight in the last six months that he needed to hold up his pants with a tight belt. And his shirts, even the new ones, they all hang off his scrawny frame loosely.

Mom went through all the racks of suits they had and chose a navy blue suit, a light blue shirt, and a striped tie. A♥ hurried to pay for our purchases while I oversaw the packing of the suit. The saleslady reminded Mom to hold on to the receipt so we could exchange the suit if it didn’t fit. Mom looked at her sadly, eyes brimming with tears, and said “We won’t be bringing it back.”

Daddy’s wake lasted all of five days. We did not expect so many people to come. From early morning to late at night, we sat with guests who wanted to pay their final respects to him. We told Daddy’s stories over and over again and in turn, we heard snippets of his life from those who knew him as their friend, as mentor, as business partner. Daddy felt most alive to me then.

The night before his funeral, I finally allowed myself to cry. I knew that the next morning would be the last time I would ever lay my eyes on his face. After that, I would only get to see him in my dreams, and only if I got lucky. I burrowed my head in A♥’s arms and wept till his arms were drenched in hot, salty tears.

At six in the morning of Daddy’s funeral, I woke up suddenly again, shivering. My teeth chattered from the cold that wrapped itself around my chest and back. I knew it was Daddy hugging me goodbye.

Over the next year, I would dream of him intermittently but often, and in each one, he grew more robust and less frail. I dreamt of him frequently as the father I had in childhood but of late, I see him looking more like he did in his early sixties. The last dream I had of him was a few months ago. In it, I saw him through my bedroom window looking up at me from the garage. He looked healthy, happy, and serene. I saw him mouth the words “I love you” over and over again. I woke up with cheeks wet from tears. I think he’s telling me- us– that he is alright where he is.

It has been two years since that rainy night in July. Seven hundred thirty days without Daddy. I don’t feel the pain and loneliness too much these days, but God, I really miss him still.

There’s No Easy Way to Say Goodbye

12 Jul

We were going to do some grocery shopping Saturday afternoon, not a lot, just the usual eggs, bread, and milk for the coming week. Because it had been a long, tiring ten days since we got home from our vacation (yes, nanny woes, again), A♥ said “Maybe we can take in a quick movie too? We won’t be long.” I didn’t even think about it. I said yes right away.

Alex was home to keep an eye on his brother and we had temporary care lined up to help Alphonse. I couldn’t resist the lure of a movie to distract us from the daily grind. And it was a real date, even if there were groceries involved.

I hurriedly changed into a new outfit I had been saving for the next date- a pair of tattered jean capris and a loose white cotton blouse I had purchased in Fuji on sale. I took out my hair rollers and gave my hair a quick run through with my fingers. I dabbed some sunblock, laid over a primer, and worked through my makeup as fast as I could. When A♥ saw that I was ready, he grabbed his keys, flashed me an OK! sign, and gave final instructions to Alex for his brother’s care. And then we were off. Almost.

When we reached the bottom of the stairs, we ran into Alphonse on his way up. He was humming a wordless ditty but upon seeing us, he stopped. He looked at us- first at me, then at A♥- and took in our clothes and the makeup on my face and then, just like that, it seemed as if a universe of happiness was sucked out of his whole being. His back bent into a stoop, his shoulders slumped, his hands stopped flapping. As he became still and small, his eyes turned vacant and glassy. The corners of his mouth drooped into a sad little pout. He didn’t make a sound. If I could describe what betrayal looked like, I’d have said that Alphonse, at that very moment, personified all its hurt and sorrow.

Despite my promises to return with presents for him, he just stood there, staring at us, that same sad, wretched look on his face. If he had grabbed at us, perhaps, I would have been firmer and maybe we would have made it out the door. But that afternoon, when it was all too possible he was still wounded and hurting at the sudden departure of the new nanny, he needed, nay, wanted, us to be there for him. How could we leave him?

A♥ took command and got Alphonse dressed and ready to go in no time at all. The three of us headed to the grocery store and ran our errands, the movie and date forgotten casualties of parenthood. We passed by McDonald’s for a treat before we went home. Alphonse was quiet, but he was smiling again.

Later that night, as Alphonse hovered around us again, I asked him a few questions.

Mama: Alphonse, are you sad when Mama and Papa leave you at home?

Alphonse nodded.

Mama: How do you feel? Ouchy? In here? (I point at his heart.)

Alphonse showed me this.

Alphonse crying copy

Once in a while, this nonverbal, profoundly autistic young man opens up to the world and it is a rare, amazing insight into his heart and mind.

Don’t be afraid, son. Mama and Papa will stay as long as we can.

Review: Suit Up Philippines’ Luggage Cover

4 Jul

For Mother’s Day and my birthday this year, I received new luggage from my husband, a Rimowa Mutiwheel 75 Sports trunk and a smaller cabin multiwheel, both in matte blue. These were unexpected surprises because we had just purchased matching Delsey Helium suitcase sets at the Travel Expo last year and they were new and still unused. We had planned to use them for our trimova sports trunkrip to the United States later the same year. Alas, we were unable to use them because of SouthWest’s size restrictions. We would have been subject to penalties equivalent to the cost of our tickets (which were cheap at USD99/pax, one way to Dallas from NY, and USD99 for Dallas to LA); too late before we found out that no one really checked for sizes at the SW terminals.

With the spate of “tanim-bala,” the obviously politically motivated modus of “planting” bullets in unsuspecting travelers’ bags, making big headlines last year, A♥ and I didn’t want to take any chances leaving our suitcases unprotected. Besides, the thought of new, pristine luggage being thrown, flipped, dinged, and battered into submission by airport personnel was enough to make us cringe.  We knew we didn’t want to DIY our extra layer of precaution. Neither did we want to spend money for plastic wrappings at the airport, which was not only time consuming and expensive, but environmentally unsafe as well. The only option left was to buy reusable luggage covers.

We found LOQI luggage covers at the Pochi store in SM Megamall. We purchased matching covers for our cabin and checked-in luggage in the following designs: Tokyo for me and Singapore for A♥. They were a little expensive but well worth the price. The fit was perfect and the fabric was stretchy but snug. We were able to use the covers on a trip to Singapore in December and they held up very well to travel. The only downside was the grease stains they acquired during handling. Those were difficult to wash off and can be readily seen because of the fabric’s light colors.

suit up FB

suit up FB 02

I wanted to dress up my Rimowa for the same reasons I did our Delsey, and because I had time to do so, I thought I could make a custom order for the sports trunk. It was serendipitous that on the day I was searching online, I came upon a Facebook post on sports trunk suit covers by Suit Up Philippines.

On May 10, I sent Suit Up Philippines’ official Facebook account an inquiry; their response was quick and courteous. I was advised to send them e-mail, which I did, the very next day. In my email, I detailed the size of my sportstrunk (mine was 75 but the trunk also came in a bigger size) and provided dimensions. After sending my design and specifications and receiving input from their end through a series of email, we concluded the transaction with a bank payment made to their account on the 18th of May. All in all, my custom cover set me back PhP2648.

Three days later, I received the tracking number to my package and on the 24th, I received the delivery. I was so excited I took out my luggage to try it on right away. The initial rush of enthusiasm turned into dismay.

suit up after 05

Unfortunatately, what was promised in their ads and what arrived were two different things. I was disappointed because all the pictures I had seen of their other products and all the feedback posted by visitors in their page pointed to solid, reputable products that were functional and beautiful at the same time.  By just looking at it, I knew there was something inherently wrong in the pattern of their sports trunk cover. Note that the sports trunk is more cubelike, with one face being close to square. Regular suitcases carry the shape of rectangular prisms, with all its faces being rectangles. Because the design did not account for this difference in shape, the suitcase cover was stretched to one side, anteroposteriorly, leaving the two sides hanging and the handle holes misaligned.

In the series of pictures below, you can see the problematic design. Picture 1 shows the suit cover as used. Notice the ill fit on top and on the sides. The sports trunk is square on top; when the cover is placed on it, the suit is stretched on one side and left hanging in the other two sides like dog ears.

suit up cuaycong 01

Picture 2 shows the overhang in one side more clearly.

suit up cuaycong 02Pictures 3 and 4 show that the holes don’t match the extrusions perfectly. As a matter of fact, the top opening is stretched taut to accommodate the top handle and the retractable trolley handle. suit up cuaycong 03

suit up cuaycong 04Picture 5 shows the top opening when the handles are hidden. You can’t access the trolley handle or the top handles easily.suit up cuaycong 05

Were it not for their excellent customer service, I would have demanded a refund right away. I was impressed at the speed they responded to questions, the courtesy they displayed through our email exchange, and their willingness to work out a solution with me. Customer service kindly offered me a replacement of size but did not promise a different pattern or shape configuration. I wanted to know if changing sizes would resolve the fit issues but they could not assure me of a definite answer.

On May 26, they asked that I return the cover so that they could repair it. I was only able to send it back on June 4 and true to form, they acknowledged receipt of my package and promised to “repair’ it. Seven days later, they sent me the tracking number to my repaired item, which I received on the 15th.

If I had held out hope the fit issues would be resolved to my satisfaction, I would have been doubly disappointed. They managed to trim the overhang but still failed to create a snug fitting cover. I took pictures to document the changes and as you can see, the fit does not look anything like the covers they had on their Facebook page.

The trolley handle was now easier to access-

suit up after 01

but the taut stretch of the fabric made the edges almost white, as if black was simply a dyed color. You could also see the seams stretched to its limits.

suit up after 02

The overhang was smaller but the folds were more apparent.

suit up after 03

Visually, it was not appealing to look at.

suit up after 04

I wrote them back again to reiterate my concerns and thank them again for their service. At that point so close to my trip, it was useless to keep sending back an item they couldn’t fix. Short of a changing their item pattern to perfect the product, I think Suit Up Philippines would do well to remove the sports trunk cover from their lineup. Aftersale support is well and good, but a good product will be able to stand on its own merits, even with just minimal customer service.

Also, after much thought, I went back to my LOQI covers for the trip to Japan just this end of June. I think I’ll stick to LOQI till I can find another brand that works just as well.

(At Narita Airport, June 30, 2016)LOQI covers

The Currency of Life

10 Jun

buddha kindnessIt was a few days before the deadline for graduation ball registration. I had been waiting for a particular person (not A♥, he is quick to remind me) to ask me to the final ball of our high school years. I was jittery and already a bit afraid that the call would never come but I had my heart set on that one boy. Just him. I crossed my fingers and waited.

Perhaps sensing the distress I was in, a friend came up to me and said “Hey, Pinks, I know how much going out with him means to you, but if he doesn’t ask you, I’m here. I’ll take you to the ball.” I hugged him awkwardly (back then, hugs were always awkward affairs) and thanked him profusely.

“No big deal,” he said. “That’s what friends do for friends.”

As it turns out, I finally got the call the night before the deadline and what I mistakenly thought as my dream-come-true did come to be. Still, in all these years, I have never forgotten the thoughtful words of that young man. Although he and I have gone on separate roads since then, his act of kindness remains undiminished in my memory.

The other night, A♥ and I went to say goodbye to him.

His was the third wake we have been to in as many weeks. The first was for my cousin, who passed away after a bout of illness. Then, early this week, we paid our respects to a friend’s beloved parent. On Wednesday night, we bade farewell to our Pisay batch mate and dear friend of our youth.

As we find ourselves going more to wakes and funerals of those we hold dear, we are changed by the knowledge that Time is no longer our friend. Life is short and each passing second draws us nearer our end. While we used to measure our lives by grades and achievements, by graduations and promotions, by the leaps and bounds of our youth, today we are suddenly more aware of the beats of our hearts and the breaths we take. For the first time in a really long while, we feel mortal.

But life, as they say, is a one-time offer. You can’t have it more than once. As such, we need to live and live well. To love and love fully. To make each second, each breath, each beat, count. And we need to live with kindness as the currency that drives our short lives. “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”* – it’s to live forever.

Judging from the testimonials on our friend’s Facebook wall, kindness was never in short supply in his life. He gave it away often and all too willingly.

Many years ago, I was one of the recipients of his gift. I only wish I got to say “Thank you” one last time.

 

*Hallowed Ground, Thomas Campbell

Point to Point and Getting You There on Time

25 May

In the last few months, amid the heat and tension of the electoral contests, I learned a lot of things about myself, the people I call my “friends,” and my country. The lessons I learned from this most recent election will need a separate post, meant for another day when I am least likely to give in to tears. But from today, I will try to look at my country with more forgiving eyes and write about something that works, be it an an idea or a service, to remind us that contrary to what we are constantly being told, we are headed towards the right direction. Progress may be slow, and it may not affect or benefit all of us at once, but as long as we continue to work together as brothers and sisters under one sun, there is hope for us yet. 

These days, I find myself giving up on city travel most of the time. Not even the enticement of a new movie and buffet dinner can budge me from the comfort and safety of our home. Gone are the the days when I would readily hop on a tricycle, hang on a jeepney, flag down a cab, or even squeeze myself with the teeming crowds in the MRT. At my age, I don’t feel like I have the stamina or the patience to bear with traffic and high people volume anymore. And so I am rarely out of the house, if I can help it. With my agoraphobia and claustrophobia in full gear, you can bet that you will find me at home 99 times out of a hundred.

Sometimes, however, you need to step out of your comfort zone to rediscover the world. One such opportunity came up a couple of months ago and I readily said yes, never mind that my anxieties over vehicles and traffic were at an all-time high. I rode with my husband in the morning, slogging through an hour and a half of slow moving traffic to get from Quezon City to Makati. At least my fears were temporarily quelled, with A♥ beside me. At the back of my mind, however, I knew I had to make the ride back home by myself, and this was a cause for worry. I had two choices: use Uber, which would be expensive but safe, or wait for A♥ to finish work and go home with him then, which would mean being away from Alphonse for almost a whole day.

Fortunately, Facebook came to the rescue. It was serendipitous that at 5am that same Monday morning, I found a shared article on the Point to Point Premium Bus on my newsfeed. It seemed like an answered prayer.

I convinced A♥ to let me try the bus. I knew he had reservations because I really don’t go anywhere without him, but Alphonse also needed me at home. For someone with little experience riding a public bus, I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing, a surprise in itself.  Thus, at 3:15pm, I found myself being dropped off at the P2P bus stop. I made it in time for the 3:30pm departure to Quezon City.

The P2P bus from Makati to QC is run by Froelich Tours on behalf of the Department of Transportation and Communivation (DOTC). Launched as an adjunct to transit services last December, it was meant to be a stop gap solution to the shortage of available  transportation experienced by the riding public every Christmas season. Operating on the framework of timed departures and arrivals at specific points, the P2P bus system is widely used in many countries all over the world. Within this same system, bus drivers are paid fixed wages instead of boundaries/quota and commission-based earnings.

13278020_10208340302279127_1686421377_n

I got the bus all to myself!

It took the bus I rode exactly 45 minutes to traverse the section of EDSA from the pick-up point  at Glorietta 5 to the drop-off  at TriNoma. The bus ride, while a bit jerky and bouncy –it’s a bus, really, what do I expect?– was uneventful and quiet. The driver, unlike other bus drivers in EDSA jockeying for position, was careful and did not weave in and out lanes, one of my biggest bus pet peeves. Inside, the bus was clean, swept, and odor-free, the seats were comfortable, and the upholstery was intact and new. Air conditioning worked well, with cold air blowing generously out of the vents unimpeded.

In the last two months, I’ve taken the P2P bus from Quezon City to Makati and vice versa many times. Not all the buses are the same, and some are clearly nicer than others, but for P55, it is definitely a good deal. I hope more people would patronize this service, even as it begins spreading out to other parts of the city. Imagine if ALL buses were point to point and on time, then, the riding public would have a reliable service at our disposal. Perhaps then, the MRT would be able to receive the rehabilitation it sorely needs, without crippling the whole city in its wake.

The following are the routes currently in operation. For more information (maps, fare matrix), please visit the DOTC website (link here).

Trinoma to Glorietta 5 (North EDSA to Makati)
Alabang Town Center to Greenbelt 1 (Ortigas to Makati)
SM North EDSA to SM Megamall (North EDSA to Ortigas)
Robinson’s Galleria to Park Square (Ortigas to Makati)

 

The Ring (with Update)

23 May

lost and found 02I lost one of my weddings ring yesterday, I don’t know exactly when or where. I wore it yesterday morning when I left the house; when I took off my jewelry later in the afternoon, it was no longer in my right hand. I’ve been trying to think of where or when I might have lost it, but nothing comes to mind.

I’m not much of a jewelry person but I do have a few favorites. This is one of them. A♥ and I bought our first pair of rings- a pair of plain white gold bands- from a roving “Manang alahera” at the Philippine General Hospital. We paid for the rings in installments over six months, well, because we didn’t have much money of our own back then. (I was a junior clerk in medical school and he had been working just a little over a year.) They were cheap compared to the ones we got for our church wedding much later, but for both of us, they were worth so much more than gold and diamonds. The rings reaffirmed our desire to be together, back when it seemed impossible. They reminded us of how much our friendship and love endured over the years. And for a young couple with little money at the start of their marriage, those rings represented a commitment to build a life together, for better or worse.

It feels a little worrisome that I lost a wedding ring on our 25th year. But I don’t want to read anything more into it than what it was, a lousy accident in an otherwise okay day, and so I pray that it brings love to whomever finds it. My ring may have been lost, but I have years of memories to cherish and appreciate. Then again, perhaps it’s time to get a new ring to commemorate moving forward to the next 25 years. Let’s go find “Manang alahera” again, A♥.

lost and found 01

P.S. That’s my ring there. How I miss it. 😞

~0~

UPDATE: The Ring

Last night, I went to bed thinking of all the things I did yesterday and retracing my steps. This morning, I woke up with a heavy sense of loss. I posted my ring story here on Facebook and then went about our day.

On Mondays, I try to clean our bedroom more thoroughly than other days and this afternoon was no exception. Against the odds, I hoped that my ring was just somewhere in our room, that it rolled off to some dusty corner waiting for me to find it again. As I often do on Mondays, I started my cleaning by stripping the bed off its sheets. Just for good measure, I whispered a prayer to St. Anthony again. I took off the sheets, brought them to the bathroom, and shook them there. Nothing. I strained to hear a clink against the tiles but none came. I did the same with each pillow, fluffing them at the same time. Disappointed, I placed the sheets and all eight pillows back. Afterwards, I took my sturdy pink broom (instead of the usual, the vacuum cleaner) and swept every corner. I even crawled under the bed to reach some hidden dust bunnies. Still not a sign of the ring. I finished by wiping down our things.

By then, I had given up; the ring was not in the room. I would have to move to another part of the house to look later. I had already been through the bathroom, even the trash cans, but the ring was nowhere. The kitchen would be my next stop.

I was mentally going through the list of things I would have to check when a wave of exhaustion swept over me. I sat down on the bed, forlorn and a wee bit bitter. Remember I had just made the bed- removed the sheets, shook them in the air, and put them back- AND then I saw the ring.

In the middle of our bed.

I still have goosebumps over it.

Happy 57th, Barbie! *

10 Mar HBD Barbie

Barbie 02

*Barbara Millicent Roberts turned 57 yesterday, March 9, 2016.

I’ve never been a girly kind of girl. Ask anyone who knows me. Apart from a short interlude with a Fisher-Price Mandy doll and a 1974 Baby Alive doll when I was nine or ten, dolls were never really my thing. I liked reading and playing video games more.

As a young girl, I hoarded back copies of Reader’s Digests from my relatives and spent the bulk of my allowance on Nancy Drew books. I bought music cassettes with what was left of my allowance, spending hours sitting by my huge “portable” radio/cassette player (the kind that needed six D-cell batteries to operate). Long before emo and goth were fashionable, I was the girl in black in the middle of summer, listening to songs of loss and death, writing essays about the futility of “being” and the death of love. In short, I liked solitary, nerdy, dark things and not the glitzy, glam, bedazzling life of a Barbie doll.

ballerina barbie

Wish I had been able to keep mine. (Source: http://www.giank.it)

Eh, Barbie dolls? I only really had one. It was a Ballerina Barbie with pale blonde hair, a white and gold tutu, pointe shoes, and the highest arched heels I had ever seen in a doll. She was so beautiful she made me want to become a ballerina myself. She was my inspiration for taking up the dance in my childhood, never mind that I always had thirty pounds over my peers in weight and body mass. Unfortunately, Ballerina Barbie suffered an early demise. She survived me for all of a year, until my younger sister Joee accidentally decapitated her in a brief struggle for ownership.

My sister Joee was the one who loved Barbies. She still has many of them today, dolls we bought together on summer trips to Hong Kong. Given time to explore the small city by ourselves, Joee and I would find ourselves entering dimly lit stores along Mody Road, looking for Barbie dolls to take home. Along the stretch of Nathan Road, we found many of our treasures and hoarded them happily- Barbie for her, Hello Kitty and Game And Watch for me, or as much as our combined allowance for the three- or four-day trip would allow.

All of my love affairs with dolls ended unhappily and lasted no more than a summer’s worth of boredom. Even as I maintained my fascination for Sanrio, books, and video games, I lost interest in dolls, Barbie dolls most of all. On hindsight, I think my body and self-esteem issues as an adolescent contributed a lot to my inability to connect with a Barbie doll. Try as I might to look or feel like one- beautiful, glamorous, perfect- I was always a gawky, nerdy ugly duckling in my mind.

DSC07819 copy

My first Silkstone- Trace of Lace: A♥ got her for me because her hair is like mine. *blushes*

It thus comes as a big surprise that as I cross the threshold of middle life, I find myself an owner of not just one or two Barbie dolls, but, ehrm, quite a few. Silkstone Barbies and Kens make up my current Barbie collection. They are all beautiful in their exquisite ways, all perfect, and all mine.

What caused this change of heart, you ask? For starters, they were gifts from my husband. He must have noticed me spending a little more time viewing doll pictures on Facebook and so he gave me one on Mother’s Day three years ago. This was followed by three on my birthday, and some more on the countdown to our 22nd anniversary. So, even as I whine and complain about the cost (Silkstone Barbies are not regular, play line dolls and do cost a bit more), I find myself quite fascinated with them.

The truth is, despite my long history of angst with what I used to perceive as the “impossible perfection” Barbie endorses, I have made my peace with her. These days, I no longer see Barbie’s beauty and unlikely body proportions as a critical reflection of my deepest personal flaws. I don’t diss her choices to become a nurse, secretary, cheerleader or any of traditionally female gender work roles that stereotyped her for years; after all, she has made larger strides in gender equality in her 57 years. I don’t blame her for materialism, eating disorders, intellectual inferiority, promiscuity, or the sexualization of young girls. These problems are not Barbie’s doing; they come from a much deeper place than a doll or the ideal of the doll. Instead, I think of Barbie as a reflection of the changing times. She is not perfect but she knows how to adapt and survive. And while I would wish for her to temper her mind blowing expenses on fashion, I laud her for the zest and love of life she espouses, for the kind of giggly enthusiasm that is hard to match by jaded men and women of her years.

(Below are some of my dolls. Click the picture to view it on a larger scale.)

barbie 01

barbie 07My silkstone dolls (well, some of them)

barbie 03

barbie 04I love the doll and dress sets best!

barbie 05Lingerie Silkstones 1-6 
barbie 06My favorite Barbie and Ken set- Darya and Nicolai

I can only think of one more argument that trumps all of the above and it is this: all of my Barbies have been gifts. As such, I choose to focus on these acts of giving. For the first time in ages, I know what it feels to be a girly kind of girl, even just a teeny weeny bit. I doubt I’ll ever be one completely, knowing how most days, I’d give up a bath for a couple of hours of The Sims 4 or Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Some things never do change. But if there’s anything I learned from my experiences with Barbie these days, it is that Mattel might have had it right all along.

“Girls can do anything.”
“Be who you want to be.” 
“Be anything.” 

I am A♥’s best friend. I am a mother. I am a geek. I am a wife. I am a nerd. I am a gamer. I am a collector. I am an advocate. I am a girl.

And I like being all these.

I like being me.

Happy birthday, Barbie! Thank you for the inspiration.♥

HBD Barbie

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,524 other followers