My barbies never got married. The twenty or so leggy blondes were too busy auditioning for The Sound of Music and rehearsing complicated Cabaret routines. Wedding dresses went straight to the costume department and my one already married doll from the Heart family promptly left her husband and two kids when she landed the lead role in Mack and Mabel.
These barbies had boyfriends for sure, bumping plastics with Derek from the “Rockers” and occasionally starting relationships with their leading men … but they never, ever got married. It just never occurred to the little me that this was the dream. I never dreamt of the white dress, or the gold ring, or being walked down the aisle. As my barbies high-kicked their way through the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook I gave no thought at all to the day ‘every little girl dreams of’.
And yet I was fiercely romantic. I held my breath every time Oliver Warbucks told Grace Farrell her teeth were crooked. I replayed the whistle scene between the Captain and Maria so many times my mind rippled with the memory. I understood why Nancy wouldn’t betray his trust, and why Mary Magdalene was really changed. My barbie dolls played with love every day.
Because even as a little girl I recognised love and I never considered it patient or kind. It was the force that propelled things forward. It made you both heavy and unbearably light. You needed it to sing better, and to dance better. It was worlds colliding. Spirited women and solid men. Seemingly insurmountable odds (Nazis! The Great Depression!). One stolen dance that could turn you inside out. Running away and running right back. The crescendo that shook you from your skin, and the potent ache of a torch song that settled in your bones.
In short, the little girl with feelings that went all the way to China had it figured out by the age of 8. She might in fact have been born with it. A prescience about where she was going and how she would be. And long after the 20 leggy blondes stopped treading the boards she carried that idea of love with her. She forgot to dream about the white dress and the gold ring and being walked down the aisle but she never stopped singing torch songs and looking for a love to crash right in to.
(You couldn’t believe I didn’t want to get married. When I tried to explain my idea of love and how I couldn’t stand up in front of people and expose it because it was so entirely yours, and not for anyone else to share. You said that made no sense at all, and for a minute there I believed you).