I took the bear to school with me almost everyday but still tried to play off as my Christmas show-and-tell when I left my new Jem (and the Rockers!) doll at home by mistake. I just happened to have the bear with me. Even though I have that memory, I can’t remember the bear’s name, nor would I think my parents would remember that doll. But Jessica? We’ll all remember Jessica.
Ani chose Jessica when she was 2 years old. The shelf at Studio 8 Ten was filled with one-of-a-kind “alien” dolls. I love the shop and the artists in it, and since it was “The Great Alien Adoption” I offered her to choose any doll. Being that she was starting the little girl ingrained desire for all things pink, she picked the one with the head full of stringy, fibrous pink hair. She had a sad face on one side and a happy face on the other, extra long braided fleece arms, and a mermaid tail. Through my own desire to support handmade artists, a friendship beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for began.
Jessica traveled. She got around. Vacations to Minnesota, hikes at Red Rock Canyon, countless walks to the nearby parks…and always, without fail, (and with tears shed over an occasionally misplaced friend), she ALWAYS went to bed with Ani. The hair…that stringy, pink hair was what comforted a little girl through naps, tantrums, and tiresome car rides. She chose the perfect strand, the longest, dreadiest lock and tucked it safely in the palm of her hand, wrapping her fingers tightly around it as if she were giving a thumbs-up. That little inch of protruding hair and her thumb popped into her mouth, her eyes settled shut, and she was off to dreamland.
We frequently visited the park in Las Vegas several blocks from our home. After a long, spring walk to and from with playtime in between, we realized Jessica was left behind. We ran back and found her, sad side up. After moving back to Wisconsin Jessica was the victim of stovetop neglect and ended up with a scorched face…the sad face. She eventually went through open body surgery to stitch her torso (sad side) and then a full-body replacement complete with butterfly fabric. We learned the basics of hair replacement when her locks began to find their way to the floor and furniture of the house.
The happy ending is that my son also “adopted” an alien doll that day. He went through a very short
-lived love of pink…I think it both began and ended when he chose Tatiana to bring home. A squatty-bodied doll
made with floral pink fabric, legs of differing lengths, her 2 faces both pretty indifferent of happy or sad, and thick, soft yarny hair. Tatiana has sat on the sidelines for years. She recently went up against Jessica in a beauty paegent, but could never beat the princess. She’s stayed pristine, clean, safe from hot surfaces. Recently Tatiana was the recipient of Jessica’s last strand of stringy hair, donated out of love for a little girl. Now Tatiana goes to bed with Ani, and she searches out that one strand of Jessica’s hair in the thickness of not-quite-right-for-sucking Tatiana hair. I don’t think Tatiana will ever replace Jessica at the head of Ani’s “posse”,but she will have her chance to be a friend to a pretty amazing child.