Last week’s What Do You Know – Bernie Su – Music
This week we get to hear from Christine Taylor also known as @mousewords on twitter. I first met Christine on twitter, I actually can’t remember how I first started following her, but within days it was quick to tell she was someone who was full of passion and creativity, her love of writing and painting and staying up into the wee hours of the nights doing eccentric things, be it geeking out or writing to watching Murder She Wrote, it was always easy to tell that Christine was fully of life and wisdom. She was a perfect fit when I began to think of people to ask to create something for this series. She’s got so many stories to tell that are fun and deeply personal, ask her about her experience with Carbon Monoxide poisoning, it’s such a inspiring story. I did finally get to meet her IRL a few years back at a book signing for Gary Vaynerchuck’s 1st book “Crush It” (affiliate link) (also pick up Gary’s 2nd book “The Thank You Economy” (affiliate link)) she and her sister @stacyjmt are everything I had to come to expect from my interaction with them on twitter.
Read Christine’s piece on Toys.
So there I was–about eight years old, on a family trip to Disneyland. As if cross-country travel and the Wonderful World of Disney weren’t enough to overload my “Awesome” circuits, I stepped into a Fantasyland collectibles shop and encountered the most stunningly amazing sight I had ever seen:
Dolls–hundreds of colorful, beautiful dolls. Not your normal, everyday miscellaneous figurines, either. I had a doting grandfather, I was pretty much an expert in the area of mainstream toys and collectibles. But these I had never seen before. Dolls of a higher order, Victorian ladies with slender 12-inch-tall bodies and dreamy, heavy-lashed eyes; a dichotomy of grown-up curves and childishly large faces. Their sweet expressions were all the same, but seemed characterfully different, painted upon silk skin under crowns of soft hair, every shade known to womankind. And the costumes! I gaped in awe at the variety of patterns and textures and fashions–daytime dress, evening dress, riding outfits. I knew I could think of a story to go with every one of them, if given the time. Perhaps after all there were only a couple dozen of the saucy misses, but to a dazzled kid they looked like hundreds, lined up row above row on a central display, ascending to a pyramid point of rainbow-hued elegance.
“Do you want one?”
Did I!! The question from my parents astounded me. Even at age eight I knew this was an impractical purchase. The dolls probably cost $30 by today’s standards. That’s a hefty price for a toy anytime, let alone on vacation. At least a lunch, to a family of six. And the delicacy of design! How could I pack it safely enough for travel?
But Mom and Pop brushed my questions aside and made my year by saying, “Go ahead, pick one.”
Not an easy task. If I could only have one, though, I knew instantly who it should be. She was loveliest of all: brown hair swept up in a soft Gibson (to a brunette girl in a world of Barbies, brown-haired dolls were a luxury), dressed in a rich rose velvet suit that could have carried her capably through cross-country travel or a cityscape adventure. Like Emily to Sara Crewe, this doll and I could imagine many stories together.
I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had chosen her.
Because, at the last, I reasoned myself into selecting a pretty sunshine-blonde in a blue-sprigged daytime dress and parasol. She looked uncannily like my mom, and I thought it would make Mom feel loved if I chose a doll that looked like her.
Mom was unaware of this sacrifice; I still remember the surprised look on her face when she asked, “Are you sure?” Even she could see which choice was a better match for me. But I stuck to my decision; and went forth into the rest of my childhood with a femininely French-named, blonde-blue-and-white debutante for a companion.
Debutante Doll and I would remain politely distant through the years. She didn’t match my pink-walled room very well, and never took to intrigue…ended up spending most of her time at countryside picnics. But despite our differences, she taught me a lesson that shaped my life.
Follow your heart.
Years later, the toys have changed, but the principle is still the same. Mac vs. PC; Blackberry vs. Droid; History Channel vs. HGTV. Even beyond toys, into life choices–at every turn I’m faced with an opportunity to either express myself, or express my respect for someone else. 99.99% of the time, “someone else” is unaware of, or has no emotional investment in, my quandary. Like my mom at the Disney shop, the people who care about me the most would vote for me to be as authentically myself as I can possibly be.
Whenever guilt tempts me to turn away from what I really want, two images flash into my thoughts. A blue-and-blonde doll set incongruously against a pink wall; and a rose-and-brown opportunity forever left behind on a store shelf. Both whispering, “Follow your heart.” Two precious lessons I’ll always remember.
Don’t you forget them, either.
Christine Taylor (aka mousewords) is a California writer and artist who believes life is filled with mystery, adventure, and dreams come true. After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning, Christine and her sister Stacy used their experience to inspire a mystery novel, The Rosewood House. Christine Twitters at @mousewords and blogs at mousewords.net, where she rarely writes about herself in the third person.