Oh my goodness, you have all been so patient with me...thank you. I'm sorry that my grand plans of blogging more often haven't really worked out the way I planned.
But enough apologizing. It's quite pathetic that I start almost every post with an apology. :}
True to her word, as soon as Beast'sbelle was back and settled from her trip, she met with me to arrange a day and time for my special date with Robby. Rapunzel and I selected the perfect spot and got everything ready. Beast'sbelle picked a few roses from her backyard and even spread some petals all around "to add a nice romantic touch".
I dressed in a new dress, put on my necklace from Robby, had Rapunzel do my hair, and then sent Emilie off with Rapunzel. It was time to go get Robby. Today, in the middle of a beautiful, romantic picnic together, I would sing for my husband. I had it all planned out. After we'd eaten, I would look deeply into his eyes and sing to him from my heart. I had been practicing the "Healing Incantation" song from Disney's "Tangled" all week. (I was going for short and uncomplicated.) :} It still sounded horrible, I was sure, but I was determined to sing no matter how silly or scared I felt.
I found Robby resting in one of our easy chairs in our sitting room.
Oh dear. Forgive me this parenthetical photo shoot, but I just realized that you haven't seen our new house set up. :}
Here it is! We still don't have any pictures up, but it's looking a lot more homey. :)
This is our sitting area. We have our green shelf, two easy chairs, our coffee table and tea set, our beautiful new curio (a present from Beast'sbelle's dear friend's mom), and an extra chair for guests.
Our shelf is full of all sorts of trinkets and treasures. :)
The back of the shelf serves as a "wall" for Emilie's bedroom. We're quite pleased with how her little room turned out.
Okay, now on to the story...really. :}
Robby eyed me appreciatively as I came into the room.
"Beautiful dress," he said. "What's the occasion?"
"Um...it's a surprise," I told him shyly. "You have to come with me."
He raised one brow but followed me obediently.
I led him all the way out to the living room. There, on the tile section next to the front door, our picnic blanket was spread.
Robby put his arm around me. "All this for me?" he teased.
I blushed and nodded.
We walked over to the blanket. Beast'sbelle had sliced part of a Costco poppy seed muffin into small pieces just our size. A candle was burning (and staying lit this time, unlike our outdoor anniversary picnic). The rose petals scattered all around were a perfect touch. Beast'sbelle had been right. :)
We sat down, and Robby watched me expectantly. I realized then that I was used to him being the orchestrator in these situations.
"Um, help yourself to some muffin cake," I offered awkwardly, picking a small portion off of my own slice.
He smiled and took some cake. "Delicious," he said after taking a bite.
I nodded and absently toyed with some crumbs that had fallen to my plate.
Robby finished his cake contentedly while I sat there, too nervous to eat. My plan had been to sing as soon as he was done eating. That time was now.
But now that it came down to the moment, I felt nauseated. I could see him watching me from my peripheral vision, which made me even more nervous.
I wet my lips, determined to work through this...and a sudden panic seized me. I couldn't remember the words...at ALL. I couldn't even remember what song I had planned on singing.
I looked away, searching frantically through my thoughts for even a snippet of a song, any song! But my mind was a total blank.
That's when I felt Robby's hand take mine.
"Are you okay, Hon?" he asked kindly. He looked down. "Your hands are like little ice cubes!"
My face flamed again. "I'm fine," I lied. What were the words?! I should be singing right now!!
Robby didn't look totally convinced. In fact, he almost looked like he was in pain. He kept scrunching his eyebrows every few moments. He managed a smile, though. "Thank you for this, Babe. It's always nice getting a little together time." He looked around. "You put a lot of work into this. Was there a special occasion I'm not remembering?" he asked again.
I looked into my husband's dear face and tried desperately to pull myself together. "I...I just wanted to...to let you know how much I love you," I finished sadly. I had failed...again.
Ordinarily, Robby would probably have noticed the tone of my voice and persisted with his interrogation, but he didn't say anything. Worried that he was angry, I peeked over at him. He was rubbing his forehead as if it was aching.
He slowly got to his feet. "You know, this has been wonderful, but I have a bit of a headache, so I think I'll head back. Would you like to join me?"
And then it hit me. Of course! The candle!! Its fragrance always gave him a headache! I'd been so preoccupied with my grand plans that I hadn't remembered. Nice going, Belle, I thought to myself angrily. This date was going from bad to worse.
"Um, you go on ahead," I said, fighting back tears. "I think I'll stay here for a while."
He nodded and gave me half a smile. His head was probably throbbing by now, but he was such a gentleman he'd never let on.
I watched him go, leaning heavily on his cane as he took the long walk back to our home. Alone. Without a song from his pathetic wife.
I don't know how long I sat there, alone in my gloomy and self-condemning thoughts. But suddenly, Beast'sbelle was there next to me.
"So, how'd it go?" she asked slowly, obviously guessing from my demeanor that things hadn't been successful.
"Oh, perfectly!" I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "Not only did I manage to completely blank on the song and find myself unable to sing even a note, but I also managed to give my husband a raging headache."
"Really?" Beast'sbelle asked.
"The candle," I said miserably. "It gives him a headache, especially when we burn it indoors."
"I'm so sorry, Belle," Beast'sbelle offered with convincing sympathy. "You worked so hard on this."
"I just wanted to do the only thing he's ever asked me for," I confessed. "He wants me to sing to him...but I just can't! No matter what I try, I always mess up or chicken out." I picked up a rose petal and tossed it angrily. "Why can't I just be like every other Disney Princess doll on the planet?!"
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Every other Disney Princess doll I know has a beautiful voice. For them, singing is as natural as breathing! Why did I have to be the oddball that missed out in the singing department?"
"Being different isn't always bad," Beast'sbelle said slowly, "although it can be difficult."
"That's easy for you to say," I grumbled. "I've heard you sing. You're not tone deaf like me."
"No," Beast'sbelle admitted, "but I know what it's like to be different than others around you."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She laughed. "Well, you may not know this, but most humans my age don't have the equivalent of a doll and toy museum in their bedroom."
"Really?" I was surprised at this. I'd never been to any other human houses except that one family we visited in the summer, but I hadn't been in every room. I'd just assumed that the doll room was one I hadn't visited. "You mean, not everyone has a place for dolls to stay?"
Beast'sbelle shook her head. "And some people think I'm really weird for having dolls stay with me." Then she smiled. "I'm glad I do, though. If I had let my differences bother me and change me, I would never have met you, or Robby, or Rapunzel, or Eugene, or any of the other dolls that live here. I would have missed out on so much."
I thought of all of the friends I'd made here at Beast'sbelle's house, and of how rich and full my life had been, aside from a few disagreements and misunderstandings with Beast'sbelle and the whole thing with Emilie. But even that had helped me appreciate my daughter so much more. Now that I was far away enough from the situation, I was able to see my own error in the scenario, and was mature enough to realize that that experience had given me a depth that I hadn't had before. And the thought of never meeting Robby or Rapunzel or Emilie was too horrible to contemplate.
"I'm glad you decided to let us stay," I admitted, "but I still don't see how that helps me. The fact that I can't sing isn't going to change the course of history."
"Not if you don't let it," Beast'sbelle said. "But Belle, I've watched you struggle with this from the beginning. You're so concerned about your voice that you've let it steal your joy. You're always afraid to sing. You're afraid what Robby might think if you do open up and sing to him. You're constantly expecting others to judge you. If you let that fear continue to motivate you, it will start to affect every aspect of your life until it drives you away from everyone you love."
I laughed. "That's a little over-dramatic, don't you think?"
"What do you think?" she asked.
I was caught off guard. "I...I don't know. I don't see how this...I mean..." Come to think of it, some of what she said did rather make sense. "Maybe.." I finally mumbled.
There was a compassionate smile on Beast'sbelle's face. "I know it's not easy, Belle. Being different never is. But if we were all the same, think how boring things would be!"
She let this sink in for a moment before continuing. "I also know that Robby and your other friends love you for you. Whether you can sing or not isn't going to make a difference to them. And you're a Disney Princess doll! You were made to sing, even if you don't sing the way you wish you could."
As I continued to mull this over, Beast'sbelle reached into her pocket. "This is why I came to see you. I forgot that I picked this up for you on my trip." She held out her hand. It was a guitar.
I took it from her and gave her a rather blank look. "Um, what is this for?"
She grinned. "Well, sometimes when you aren't blessed in one area, you can shine in another. I thought you might like to try your hand at an instrument. There are plenty of ways to make music, you know."
"What makes you think I'll be any better at this than singing?" I asked skeptically.
"I don't know that you will," she answered simply. "But sometimes it's fun to try something new."
She reached into her pocket again, pulled out her cell phone, and glanced at it. "Well, I've got to go pick up the girls from school. We'll be running errands and taking Oldest Gal to AWANA, so we won't be back until after dinner. Think about what I said, okay?"
I nodded, so distracted by the millions of thoughts spinning through my head that I forgot to say goodbye.
I cautiously put the guitar strap over my shoulder and strummed a few notes. It sounded awful. I shivered and started to put the guitar aside. But something stopped me.
For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, I sat and strummed and adjusted, and strummed and adjusted, and strummed some more. By the end of the day, I could pick out a tune. It was simple, but it was a tune...and it stayed on key!! The best part was that using the guitar to make music gave me the same joy that singing should. Maybe Beast'sbelle was right...maybe I could do this. And maybe singing off key wasn't the most horrible thing in the world.