My car is filled with today’s treasures, acquired during breaks from picketing. I have found a worthy set of dinner dishes too fine to smash for my signature mosaics, a huge dragon kite, an iron and glass tea cart, picture frames, photo albums, flower pots, wire baskets, an enamel box, a neat knitted vest and a scarf both of which I have already given away, and the blue box.
The blue box is a conundrum, because it is a real treasure at least until I open it. Then, it may be a disappointment. How many times have I opened such a box to find it filled with trash or old ratty doilies or socks? How many times have I kicked an old crappy carton and been stopped by a dull thud, looked inside, and discovered something special? Antique porcelain figurines. Crystal stemware. Garbage, more than not; treasures, not so much but with sufficient frequency to keep me coming back for more.
So, I am leaning on the old cockeyed TV stand, opening my blue box slowly, expecting nothing. I am cold and a bit numb from a long day out here picketing and scavenging, achy from Thanksgiving preparations, serving and cleanup, wishing I were home in front of a fire, practically on my way, and I open the box. As the contents become visible, hands and arms appear over my shoulder, in front of my face, from nowhere; bodies are practically on top of me, voices join in unison, I’ll take it if you don’t want it, I’ll take it, give it to me. We are not, I must remind you, raggedy homeless vagabonds huddling around a fire in an old tin can, seeking life saving sustenance, merely respectable perpetually hopeful treasure seekers.
No, I pull my arm that holds the box away from the throng, protectively. It’s mine. And they disperse. I slowly lift the cover, exposing the tissue covered contents.
Inside the box, nestled in this mound of tissue paper is a doll so lifelike that I gasp involuntarily; rosebud mouth, blond red curls; long lashes over deep hazel eyes. Shivers run through me. There is something familiar about that face. She wears a pale blue organdy dress with lace and ruffles and a pinafore, and she holds a teddy bear in one arm. She is obviously brand new. Why would anyone throw such a wondrous thing away? I look inquisitively at the woman, petite and fine and well dressed, getting into her neat late model automobile. Why? I look at her and ask her why she is disposing of this beautiful thing. She pretends not to hear me, doesn’t even shrug; she holds her head high, her tightly closed face chiseled in steel, closes the car door, and drives away. Her mysterious reason disappears with her.
Everyone comes over to examine my treasure, envy so thick it has become a presence in the cold late November afternoon. Soon, I take my leave, putting the blue box carefully in the front seat of my Jeep. I am so exhausted that I leave the unpacking of the car until the next morning.
I bring the doll in her container tenderly inside and place the blue box on a table in the dining room. I open the box and look at her again, stunned by the emotions she reveals in me. There is something about that face. I look at this doll and wonder why I have taken her. What will I do with her now that there are no longer small female children in our family, I am wanting to find her a good home but unable to part with her.
I wonder again why she was purchased and why she was disposed of without even being taken from her box and tissue paper. A true conundrum. Why? There is no accounting for the whims of people.
I examine the doll carefully. scrupulously, missing no detail. This doll certainly is exquisite, beautifully made, expensive. Wait, look over there. There is a tear on her cheek. What realism! I look more carefully. There are tears falling from one eye, and one on the cheek. Tiny perfect acrylic tears. There are two tears on the other cheek. This is a sad, sad doll; a doll that is crying. I feel a kinship with this doll; she is family.