Just What is a Companion Doll Anyways?

Perhaps some of my ambivalence with my other dolls is the result of my companionship with my Schoenhut.  A most unexpected development.  This relationship feels different.  It sprung not out of my “desire” for a perfect companion doll, but from a need that was much more basic.  It was much more child-like and in a simple and uncomplicated depth.   I am in love with the most imperfect doll I have ever had!

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Part of it may have come with all our downsizing, our constant moving and shaking.  I needed stability, a sense of home, a something that represented what I missed and felt close to.  When Evie was my companion doll, she brought me a sense of new possibilities, a new direction.  She opened my imagination to photo-stories and sewing in a new way.  I will always be grateful for my time with Evie.  I daresay that every doll that has crossed my doorstep had the potential of being a companion doll.  And as in human relationships, sometimes the losses and regrets, the unfulfilled wishes can keep us dolly nuts continuing to reach for that shining star, whatever it may be, whatever we are seeking in that very next doll that sets our imagination soaring once again.  Rosey came in with her simple self, her old  fashioned self, her history and stability, her earthy woodiness….Rosey came when I needed doll to just be a doll.  A doll like my childhood doll.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  This intangible love of dolls.  Certain dolls can make me squee with delight.  Some can make my mouth hang open in amazement.  Some open my imagination in a new way.  Some make me cringe, some look downright creepy.  Some make me shrug my shoulders in disinterest.  I really don’t know why I stopped playing with dolls as a child and then took the interest back up as an adult.  I look back on it for clues, but all I remember is the strange denial I went through and semi-embarrassment.  It was around 2003 that the interest picked back up and it was important to explain my interest in sewing or historical costuming…and it took awhile to give up the pretence and admit I liked dolls as dolls….as an adult.

Rosey brings me a sense of home and the past.  These days, I am reaching for something deep within me, something I recognise, something I know instead of reaching for the star.  I think returning to Europe opened up that long supressed thing inside me.  I really want to explore this…but not right now.  My intent in writing this all today was to gather around me, the ideas of what changed about my idea of a companion doll and why that affected my relationship to my other dolls.2012-10-01 045 When I see Rosey like this, I see a connection to my own childhood.  A little girl talking to a companion.  That is me.  That is my daughter.  That is my granddaughter.  It may have been my mother and my grandmother too.  It is ageless and timeless.  It’s not created, it exists.

It really clicked to see the resemblance Rosey had to my childhood Chatty Cathy.  Clicked in a way that had me sit up and take notice.  I spent the other evening looking at Chatty Cathy’s and trying to figure out what was going on in my thoughts and my heart about it.  My heart was certainly thumping…a sort of excitement, as though I really did find Chatty Cathy again.  Or was that just a spark of hope and remembrance?

As I looked at the Chatty’s online, I tried to imagine having one.  It’s certainly not impossible to bring one home.  In fact I kept telling myself I could bring one home at the click of a button.  That’s all it would take.  Yet, that same hesitancy I have always felt when close to considering it, and that is “you can never go back to what it was by bringing home an imitation”.  So I looked at Rosey.  The resemblance is there and in other ways it is not.  Rosey has a upturned nose, teeth showing, dark hair and brown eyes.  But she is not Chatty Cathy as I see her, but as I remember her inside.  I think that is what the difference is between what Evie was for me and what Rosey is for me.  Evie was the utmost in my ideal of a doll and I wanted her as my companion because it was like finding a gemstone in the sand.  I wanted to know every facet of her.

Rosey is not what I see, but what I feel when I see her. When I think of all the dolls I have brought home and then rehomed because of this or that flaw or feature I did not like, it turns out that as many imperfections as Rosey has, it does not matter.  Rosey brings me the remembrance of my love of my childhood doll companion, but she is also her own self.  I tried calling her Cathy to try it on and it was laughable.  “Do you see a pull string in my neck?”  I smiled.  Rosey has the charm of Chatty and the spirit of Evie.  Perhaps Rosey is a little bit of every doll I have ever loved or wanted.  And embracing all that, a Schoenhut who was carved and pressed and put together in 1918 or thereabouts.   She is herself before anything else.

2012-10-01 013 I don’t want to make this into a dramatic undying love homage, lol.  I just have been wrapped up in the changes, the nuances and feel to my dolly world as I settle down and relax and realize that nothing is the same as it was.  My relationships and intentions with the dolls I have so loved, have shifted.  Perhaps they will shift again.   This is what keeps the imagination thriving I guess!

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And this little one has life in every wood splinter.

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One thought on “Just What is a Companion Doll Anyways?

  1. Beautifully written Elisa, a real insight into the world of loving dolls and in particular a special doll companion. A thoughtful commentary on how things have changed for you. It is funny, but I always like the ‘waifs’ and ‘strays’ and the least perfect companions the most. They seem to have far more history and personality about them. I think I am understanding what you feel for Rosey as well. I’m not there yet with my Schoenhut, but she has certainly touched a nerve with me and unlike other dolls, for example Sasha, where I’ve wanted another, and another, I have no feelings like that with the Schoenhuts as I think Anne-Marie (or whomever she will eventually become) is the one that is just right. I felt that connection as soon as I saw her picture. Why? I couldn’t really say as she certainly wasn’t the prettiest, or the mintiest etc… I just knew she was my doll.

    I am so enjoying your posts as they are really making me think about things, something I have avoided for the last two or three years. Thank you.

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