In one of the two rooms up in the attic a folding camp bed was parked for me. The other room was scary. It was more of the real atticky part of the top floor in my parents house. It’s where my grandparents slept when they stayed over for the night. A fascinating orange and black tube containing brilliant cream that my grandfather used to comb through his hair in the mornings, made me cautiously sneek into that room. But if that marvellously intriguing object wasn’t laying around, and it hardly ever was since my grandparents peacefully lived at the other side of the country, I wouldn’t dear enter that real attic and happily sticked to my own better illuminated quarter.
Every evening I’d align next to each other all my dolls and teddy bears, neatly tucking them in under the bed cover. Although the newly acquired barby dolls weren’t comfortable to share the bed with due to their edgy ligaments, they’d concurred themselves some precious space as well because I loved playing with them so much.
I sat on my knees next to the folding camp bed, cautious enough not to sit at either end of it after several collapses that got me, bed and everything on it, high up in the air. There was no place left for me under the neatly folded bed cover. Occupied as it was with all scattered pieces of emotion symbolized by playful doll faces and soft dark teddy bear eyes.
We project our own set of habits and emotions onto the other. Actually this someone functions like a mirror. We think we see the other. But we only see what we know and that’s ourself. That’s us. We start with non complex single message emotions as featured by dolls and teddy bears and hug happily ever after with our first girl- and boyfriends, on and on with our partners, husband and wives. In fact we never stop hugging ourselves. If we do it right!
Young at heart we familiarize with pure loveliness. As adolescents we get into more punky sets of emotions. Contrasting, complicated and intertwined, as unintelligible as we are ourselves. Growing older we start to assimilate personality traits and become more and more aware of complex sets of emotions. Our emotions as they are being triggered by a variety of cultural or natural expressions, are into exploring different layers of recognition through art, food, music, nature; touching beyond the skin. Still it’s in the other we see ourselves. It’s in the other we recognize our own mistakes, frustrations, loveliness and anger.
And this is exactly what happens to our dolls and teddy bears when we are kids. We project our own interior onto something outside of us. Representation, reflection, projection, you name it; what we see comes from deep down inside ourselves. As long as we’re not aware of the content inside of us, we project it outside. To make it clear, to visualize it before our own eyes.
This little girl is arranging her emotions neatly side by side. Abundant as they are, there’s no place left – or no space yet – for her individual self; to lay down her own physical head on the pillow.
During the same time this little girl starts giving her dolls names. In particular the beautiful big baby like doll with the eyes that open and close following the movements of the head. If you put her down, she’ll sleep. If you lift her up, her eyes spread wide open. The little girl is proud to own this big doll and at the same time she finds the big doll scary. Secretly and just a little bit she tells herself. Fact is that the plastic doll is hard headed and by far the largest member of her extended doll and teddy family. The name giving practice is pretty endless. This however is mainly due to the fact that every next morning she’s oblivious again of the names she’d came up with the preceding day. Until one day she remembers the big dolls name. It’s Victoria. The victorious and voluptuous plastic doll bears that name until today.
How does a four year old girl know what victoria means? Has it been a way to concur the slight fear for her doll? Finally finding a suitable name, the one and only that lasted. Naming is the start of acquainting, of finding ways to get to know and eventually handle. In this case frightening and loving feelings at the same time. Victoria is overwhelming to the girl, is the victorious one to the girl and at the same time she loves the doll a great deal. Never in history Victoria was surpassed by another doll and until today Victoria lives on in the girls memory.
Somehow I managed to acquire a space in my bed night after night, surrounded by all my emotions, neatly tucked in next to me, well taken care of. And when they had silently fallen asleep I could rest my physical head next to them.