When I was a little girl, my most favorite thing in the world was Barbies. I loved them. I loved dressing them and fixing their hair. I never had one of those big Barbie houses, no, that was too limiting for me, I needed more space, more options than the doll house would provide. No, I made furniture by stacking paperbacks and covering them with washcloths (perfect sofa!), and I had a great bed and using all the space in my room, they always lived in a sprawling mansion. My friends loved playing with me because I would always create elaborate story lines and sometimes these games would last well into the night. There was always adventure and danger and romance. With lots of kissing.
It was a sad day when I had to put up those Barbies. Much later than all my friends I had tried to keep playing, but somehow the magic had died for me sometime in between elementary and jr. high. I still have all my Barbies, tucked away in my big, red suitcase, and someday they’ll be played with again, with my girls – I think they’re almost ready.
I learned a new way to play Barbies though. A new way to create those adventurous and romantic storylines with lots of kissing. And now I get paid for it. It took me a while to realize that’s what years of Barbie playing was for me, I was cultivating myself as a romance reader and writer, learning the rudimentary steps of story and character creation. Luckily some things have changed. I no longer have to name my Barbies (uh…characters) Toni or Ashleigh. Not that those are bad names, but they don’t really fit into Victorian times. And my heroes, unlike Ken, aren’t plastic everywhere and have more than just a subtle bump.
I think about those times though. Staying up way too late, listening to New Edition’s remake of Earth Angel or Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam’s All Cried Out, and playing Barbies who would dress in their costumes and go to Masquerade parties and dance and laugh and, of course, kiss. I had no idea then that those times were building on something bigger for me, no idea that I was rehearsing for the coolest job on the planet.
I love creating stories. I love coming up with characters that are unique and special in their own way, yet so familiar, you could swear you know them. I love watching these characters hit obstacles and grow and change and become stronger, better people. And I love making them fall in love.
Can you look back into your past and see tells of the adult you were meant to become? And the real question…did you love Barbies as much as I do…uh did?