Millennium Memoir
Moon and Stars . .

12.23.1999

Crystal and Paysannerie

When I was four years old, my father bought me a beautiful French doll from the toy store down the street. I'd been staring at her in the window of the shop for weeks and sighing pitifully, because I was sure we could never afford her and she would not be able to come home with me.

Yet she was my gift for my birthday and I named her Crystal.

Crystal has been my constant companion ever since. A friend and playmate in all of my make-believe games, a comrade through all of my dreamscapes. She was still an important part of my life all the way into my teen years. She was like the sister that I never had.

Our hey day though, was between the ages of eight and eleven, when my imagination really took off and in fact, absorbed a significant portion of my waking moments.

One particular fantasy, involved being the princess of a small land named "Paysannerie." As I said in the last entry, I had a fascination with having a simple life at that age, and hence Paysannerie was a land of simple but prosperous farmers, wherein the royal family were as simple and down to earth as the rest of their people, but gifted with magical powers that allowed them to fairly and justly protect their land from evil invaders and dispense justice when things went awry in the little kingdom. ("paysan" means "peasant" in French)

I was the elder sister of course, strong in body but not so strong in spirit, nor in the magical powers that were the hallmark of the family. Crystal was the younger sister, weak in body due to an illness she'd suffered as a baby, permanently stunted in growth (my compensation for the fact that Crystal, the doll, was not scale to my own size), but bearer of an amazing level of power.

I was my sister's devoted servant, carrying her from place to place so that we could do our duty by the people. She was wise and powerful, whilst I was sort of a woman-at-arms. Together we were one potent set of princesses and the evils that we defeated nightly could fill several tomes of very bad fantastic fiction.

Crystal also was a mode of expression for me. I began to make clothes for her when I was nine or so, and when I saw a movie, or read a book that brought me a new idea, I would often make a new costume for Crystal.

To whit, the nun's costume I constructed after I saw "The Nun's Story" starring Audrey Hepburn at around age ten. I was struck by the courageous young woman, her intelligence and her struggle to master herself in order to better serve God. And of course, Ms. Hepburn was quite beautiful, so I became completely enamored of being a nun for several months.

Crystal was dressed all in white during this period, in a simple cassock dress and coif that I made for her from a remnant of white fabric my mother used to make curtains. Her pretty bronze hair was tied up and hidden away (it's a miracle I didn't cut it in fact, but thank goodness I didn't) and her hands folded serenely in front of her at all times. I thought she looked positively angelic thusly and was quite proud of the fact that I'd managed to make a nun's coif out of two pieces of fabric and a few pins.

Eventully though, I got over my obsession with nuns in white and moved on to other things -- namely "The Blue and the Grey" which was being re-broadcast in Europe at about that time, followed shortly by "North and South."

Then Crystal gained swathes of black silk and a brown cape, her hair was twisted up into a complicated bun with cute little braids curled over her ears.

During high school and college I became distracted from my imagination games, but I made some beautiful clothing for Crystal during that time period, things that my small hands weren't capable of constructing before and more in the theme of her original wardrobe.

When Crystal first arrived at my house, she had a three-tiered red velvet jumper-dress on over a peachy-pink blouse with a lace-trimmed peter pan collar, several tucks down the front and long slightly puffed sleeves -- a poet's shirt. On her head was an elegant, black felt hat with a round crown and wide brim. A black velvet bow was tied at her neck and black boots peeked out from beneath her skirts along with the lace-trimmed edges of her bloomers and petticoat.

In other words, she was dressed in late 19th century children's clothing. The clothing I made in this later period consised of a pair of grey velvet trousers and matching vest, a new poet's shirt in white, a black velvet long-waisted dress with long princess sleeves, an Edwardian-style ballgown with high waist and train and a dark blue day-gown with loose high-waisted lines.

I used to change her outfit ever few weeks according to my mood, or seasonal whims. I even made her a dress for Christmas with a red bodice and a skirt made out of left-over strips of ribbon cloth my mother used to make favors for a party.

While I was away at college, she stayed safely at home in my room, sitting quietly on her little wooden chair. This year, I brought her at last to our apartment, where she continues to sit, quietly, her lap covered with a black piece of remnant cloth to protect her velvet skirts from the depradations of the cats.

She is with me now as she was always -- thought I no longer play the games that once enchanted us both so.

Moonlit Trees . .

backward | archive | narrative | mail | onward