Skipper, Barbie’s sister

Skipper counts as a Barbie.

When we immigrated to the United States in 1984, we packed light. The advertisement must have read: “Leaving the country! Everything must go!” Elegant mothers traipsed business like into my bedroom to assess my toys. I stayed away, at mother’s suggestion. I lolled by the windows in the living room, far but with a clear view of the parade. I would see what they walked out with.

My cowgirl Skipper doll was the sole survivor, the special toy. I didn’t even really like her, because she wasn’t Barbie, but she was still my best toy. Skipper and I headed to Oklahoma City, where the nights were impossibly dark.

The big black Oklahoma nights were rich and pure. I had been a big city kid up to then. My previous life felt like practice for these cavernous eves riding in the backseat of my aunt’s big American car. I rode along in a pillowy silent boat gliding on streets that were empty, even and clean.

The big American houses, with interminable front lawns, shone with inviting porch lights. That soft yellow light coming from the windows broke my heart. I made sure to hold my Skipper doll lightly. I didn’t want her to think I cared. After all, she wasn’t Barbie.

I still remember my first real Barbie: Peaches and Creme, Miami Beach, my 6th birthday. I was a big girl and ready for my first Barbie, but as I was expecting at least five Barbies, it hurt and I couldn’t enjoy her single-mindedly. I felt betrayed. Gifts felt earned. 

Over the next six years, I came into possession of approximately 42 actual Barbies through single minded 1980’s American style determination. I would not so much play with any of them. Instead, I would sit in front of them and recollect their provenance. That was a favorite pastime. The Skipper doll remained a thorn, though. I often considered giving her away but doing so would have knocked down my count.

Because, I did count her, even though she wasn’t a real Barbie.

{This post is a response to the writing 101 assignment to mine my own material. This is a re-draft of a post from earlier this year. Also, this post responds to a reader’s request for a story about a Barbie. 

The featured image is a photo I took this evening of a rabbit in my backyard. The nights aren’t quite so black here. They’re in between.}


I write abecedarian sequences

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