Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine

I turned nine-years-old amidst the filthy, chlorine flavored air of L.A.  Because Mom had moved us quickly and without much money, we slept on plastic lawn chairs in an empty apartment and ate mostly pasta, potatoes and "cheese-food."  Violence sent us spinning back to Illinois after only nine months.

I've tried not to hold onto the memories of that time, though it's the following year that is a true blank canvass.  It's as though I skipped over age ten.  I can't picture a day, an item of clothing, a teacher. An entire year of my life is just white noise.  I think that my mind short circuited after California, providing a necessary respite and believing that if it blocked out everything, it could kill the memories left behind. 

But I did keep an object from those Calamitous California months; a Pink Panther autograph doll.

For Christmas that year, my Aunt Eddie thought an autograph doll was the perfect gift for a little girl new to Los Angeles.  California was supposed to be movie stars and endless sunny days.  My aunt had the best intentions when she handed me the glossily wrapped gift.  Inside, sewed to the stuffed Panther, was a black, felt pen for important signatures.  Fearless, I uncapped the pen and inked my own name across Pinky's chest.  Within a month, my nine-year-old bravado would be stamped out.  But that Christmas, I still believed in the promise of oceans and starlets.

Fast forward thirty-four years and whatever autographs were scrawled across Pinky are long faded. The stuffing has condensed so tight that the doll is basically armless and neckless, flopped forward like a drunk insect.  

Over the years, she (he?) has nestled in the toy-boxes of my children, burrowed into storage bins for years at a time and slept in the back of my closet.  But recently, Pinky has made a comeback.

For the past few weeks, my husband and Pinky have conspired to expose his (her?) true daily activities. Pinky shaves his (her?) face.  Pinky reads my Kindle.  Pinky uses my back-scratcher to relieve an itch. Pinky locates the word "panther" in the dictionary.  I am stunned by this duet between Pinky and my husband.  Because, if you were to peel me open to locate my heart, you would instead find this doll. Pinky is the visual representation of every experience I've had since that terrible year.  Pinky is a reminder, an honoring of who I am - all of the parts, from the wilted, damaged limbs to the chubby, stained paws. 

So what my husband has done in these past few weeks, as he partners with Pinky to leave daily Valentines on my bed, is more meaningful than he could ever have guessed.  

Welcome back, Pinky.  And thank you, Kevin.  After twenty-six years of Valentines, this one tops them all.





















16 comments:

  1. ...and now I am choked up. So wonderful...

    And a 'grook' from Piet Hein:

    Here is a fact
    That will help you to fight
    a bit longer:

    Things that don't act-
    ually kill you outright
    make you stronger.

    Glad you survived and are smiling.

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

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  2. What a clever idea! Props to Hubby! I think as a writer, you could make that year of white noise into anything you'd like it to be. Let your 10-year-old self conquer the world.

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    1. You are right, Kathy. I was probably Supergirl that year - flying around the world saving babies and kittens in distress.

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  3. I agree with Kathy and love the idea of reuniting with your 10-year-olf self! Kevin really raised the gauntlet with this. What a beautiful gift :)

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    1. Thanks, Tim. I hear that you aren't such a shabby husband yourself :)

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  4. I love this! Love this! Way to go Kevin!

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    1. Right? Happy V-Day, Gina. You are mos def one of my favorite Valentines.

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  5. Thank you for the sweet Valentine ending.

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  6. So lovely. Pinky never really left. Happy Valentine's Day!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Sheena-kay. It's hard to keep a good panther down.

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  7. This is so awesome. Beautiful writing and a hilarious and amazing husband.

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    Replies
    1. And I have amazing friends too, Robina. Much love on V-Day.

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  8. Go, Pinkie! So floppy, but such a good panther.

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    Replies
    1. Well, now we are just talking about you.

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