Things have been pretty calm around here since Tiana left. We've gotten back into our regular routines: sitting on the shelves, sticking to Beast'sbelle's room until her daughters are in bed or outside, and trying to entertain ourselves during the long, hot hours of daylight. I'm really looking forward to next week when the two older girls will be in school and we'll have a little more freedom!
One change that I forgot to mention earlier is that Robby and I no longer have our room. It took up a lot of space that Beast'sbelle needed for other things, so she asked us if we'd mind giving it up. We didn't. I mean, I'll admit, I miss having a nice, comfy bed to sleep on instead of a hard shelf. But other than that, it's no big loss. Robby and I felt uncomfortable with the favoritism, even though our friends never held it against us, and we missed the simplicity of all being together. So now our spot is on the dresser in front of Beast'sbelle's white bookshelf. Rapunzel and Eugene are there too, but Ben and Isabella are on a different shelf (Beast'sbelle is still determined to get them together!).
I guess the only other change that's happened really brings me to the point of this post. Beast'sbelle has picked up a few more dolls this summer, both Belle and Rapunzel dolls. Some are still in their boxes, and some are loose. Rapunzel (the original...my best friend) ;) and I have yet to meet them, but even from a distance it's easy to tell they're quite spectacular.
I have to admit, I feel a bit insecure surrounded by so many beautiful, brand-new Belle dolls. I keep worrying that Beast'sbelle will one day decide that I'm too worn out and that she needs a replacement. She definitely enjoys her mint condition dolls. What if I get too "used" to be in her collection anymore?
These troubled thoughts loomed in my mind two nights ago as I headed over to the bookshelf next to Beast'belle's bed. The bottom shelf serves as a nightstand for Beast'sbelle and a vanity/dressing room for us. Beast'sbelle has a round, stand-alone mirror that works just right for us if we sit on her alarm clock. On the end of the shelf is a large framed picture from Beast'sbelle's wedding (which I can't share here so that Beast'sbelle's anonymity remains in tact). Whenever we want to change our clothes, we stand behind it and use it as a privacy screen. Isabella and I are usually the only ones to change, though. Rapunzel doesn't have any spare clothes (and she loves her original dress anyway), and the boys don't have any extra outfits either.
As I was sitting in front of the mirror, freshening up, I noticed something rather alarming about my hair. Now, I've never thought of myself as a vain doll, but I suppose we all end up learning things about ourselves that we never knew. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was very disturbed by my discovery...enough that it almost reduced me to tears.
Later that evening, after I'd changed and taken my place beside Robby, I decided to redo my hair. It had been in the same style for a couple of weeks, and my bobby pins were beginning to hurt my head. Robby was watching me, as he usually did. I'll never understand the fascination he finds in watching my every move. :}
"You're so beautiful," he said suddenly and simply, as if it were an indisputable fact.
I turned and looked at him. My usual response would have been to laugh it off or say "whatever", or something along that line. Tonight, I didn't say anything, but I stopped fussing with my hair and looked away again.
"What is it?" he asked with concern.
I shook my head. I was too embarrassed to answer.
Then I felt his hand on my arm. "Belle," his gentle voice prodded, "what's wrong?"
I looked into his beautiful blue eyes for just a moment before I looked away. I could feel blush creeping across my face. "It's nothing," I hedged.
He knew me better than that, but he didn't say anything else. I knew he was still waiting for an explanation, though.
Finally, I couldn't stand the silence. "I just wish you wouldn't call me beautiful," I admitted.
He gave me an amused look. "Why not?"
"Because I'm not!" I insisted. "I'm just me, and there are so many dolls in this room who are more beautiful than I am...it makes me feel silly to have you hold me up as this ideal of perfection. Being beautiful is a trivial accomplishment anyway."
Robby chuckled. "I don't love you because you're beautiful, Belle. I see it as an added bonus. Besides, to me you are the most beautiful doll in the room."
"Even with this?" I said heatedly. I lifted up my hair on one side so he could get a good view:
"Um...what do you mean?" he asked in confusion.
I turned and stared at him in disbelief. "You didn't see it? I have almost an entire row of missing hair plugs!! I'm missing a few on the other side, too."
He had nothing to say, but his mouth was twitching suspiciously, as if he was trying to keep from laughing.
"It's not funny," I gritted.
The twitching stopped and he attempted to put on a sympathetic face. "It's just a little missing hair, Honey. I wouldn't have even noticed if you hadn't told me."
"It's not 'just a little missing hair', Robby!" I argued. "This is how it all starts! Before you know it, I'll be bald and then where will I be? I've never seen Beast'sbelle rewig a doll our size. I don't know if she even knows how! What if she decides I'm not good enough anymore? What if she sells me? What if I never see you again?" And with that, I burst into tears and flung myself into his arms.
He was quiet and just let me cry for a bit. It was a wise move on his part. We'd been through this before. In fact, when we're not in the middle of a situation like this, he's laughed and called them my "sporadic freak-out moments". I'm normally a pretty even-keeled doll (at least from my perspective!), but there are some days when something will just hit me a certain way and I either rant or burst into tears. Once Robby teased that he wished I could figure out when these moments would happen and warn him in advance so that he could be prepared. At the time, it was kind of hilarious...I was far enough removed from the moment to see the humor. If he ever tried it in the middle of a meltdown, though, he might not survive.
"Beast'sbelle isn't going to sell you, Belle. You're too special to her," he soothed after I'd calmed down a bit. "And even if she tried," he teased, "I wouldn't let her."
I lifted my tear-stained face from his shoulder, missing the joke. "You can't promise that," I whimpered. "We've never been able to have any say in what Beast'sbelle does. How could you do anything to stop her if she decided she was done with me?"
"Belle, calm down," he said softly, running his hand through my thinning hair. "I was just trying to make you smile. Beast'sbelle takes good care of us. She's not going to sell you just because you don't look like a brand-new doll."
I sniffed and wiped my eyes. "How can you be sure?"
"Because I know her," he answered confidently. "You need to give her more credit."
"And what about you?" I persisted. "What if I go bald? Would you still love me?"
He smiled and shook his head. "What sort of question is that? Of course I'd still love you! I didn't marry you for your hair, you know." Then he grinned. "Besides, I think you'd look pretty cute bald."
I socked him on the shoulder and he laughed.
"Now come over here and sit by me," he ordered jokingly, turning to take his seat again.
I watched as he carefully eased himself back into a sitting position. He'd gotten so much better at getting around that I kept forgetting about his hip. And suddenly, I felt like a shallow dolt. Here I was, complaining about missing hair and asking if he'd still love me, when I'd agreed to marry him in spite of his crippled leg. The last thing I wanted to do was make him think that I regretted my decision. And if I was this worked up about my hair, would he think I had a problem with his leg? I didn't, but I wasn't sure if he would come to that conclusion as well.
I sat down next to my husband and put my head on his shoulder. "How's your hip today?"
He shrugged. "A bit stiff, but I'll survive."
I smiled. He hated drawing attention to himself. His leg would probably fall off before he ever complained about it.
"I'm sorry about the whole hair thing," I said slowly.
I felt a smile form on his lips next to my head. "Don't worry about it, Belle."
"It's just..." I began, then stopped. What was the big deal? It was just hair. I still had a lot of it left. My thoughts slowly gathered. "I guess I'm more vain than I thought," I finally concluded sadly. "I mean, by nature, we're expected to find our worth in our 'condition', mint or otherwise. Humans value us by how we look and what sort of shape we're in."
"Or for sentimental attachment," Robby interjected.
"Maybe," I agreed skeptically, "but our main value as dolls comes from how we look. When you don't have that anymore...it's a sad, scary thing."
Robby sat up straight and lifted my chin so that I was looking right into his eyes. "You're so much more than your appearance, Belle. You're smart, funny, caring, creative, and that's what makes you even more beautiful than you already are." He paused. "I can't promise that Beast'sbelle won't ever get rid of you. But I can promise to keep the vows we made last May." He tenderly stroked my cheek with his hand. "When I said I'd love you in brokenness and mint condition, till landfill and dumpster do us part, I meant it. Nothing like some silly hair loss is going to change my mind." He lowered his eyes. "And it means so much to me that you started out your married life with an already broken doll..."
I put my arms around him. "Don't say that," I shushed him. "I don't regret it for one moment." And of course, I started crying, because that's apparently what I do when anything is remotely emotional! :} I pulled back and kissed him. Then I laughed through my tears. "And besides," I concluded, "how can I regret marrying someone who loves me even when I'm cranky and emotional about my hair?"
He laughed too, and then we kissed again...and about that time, Eugene and Rapunzel came back from their nightly walk and teased us about our PDA (public display of affection, if anyone needs the translation). ;)
We all settled down comfortably for the evening. The four of us had decided that since we had so many great books available at our backs, we'd start reading every night. We'd been working on The Chronicles of Narnia and had just finished "The Magician's Nephew" last week. Now we were on to "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Eugene pulled the book off of the shelf, Rapunzel got Emmaline and Abigail all situated next to Pascal, and I snuggled up next to Robby, with my head on his shoulder once again. Then we all listened to Eugene's strong, dramatic voice as he read aloud, and I reveled in the joy of reading, the enjoyment of friends, and the comfort and security of being loved unconditionally.