30 years ago, I worked in downtown Portland. I would walk by the Real Mother Goose Gallery every day. And I would drool. I would absolutely adore the figures in the window, made of clay, whimsical animals that were dressed as if they popped out of Alice in Wonderland. I went in one day, to see if I could afford one, or two, or a whole family of them. And...much to my dismay, they were very much out of my price range. I was only 18 years old, and not making very much money working for Charles F. Berg, and I would just have to imagine a family of them one day being in my home, on my mantel.
There were many of them, all sorts of magical creatures with wonderful personalities. At least I made up stories about each of them, a bit of a fairy tale in my ho hum existence of work, work, work.
Flash to 30 years (or so) later...I am wandering around a thrift store, and I catch my breath. Could it be...no...it couldn't.
Vivienne...magical, wondrous Vivienne. The bakery owner herself. With a bundle of strawberries to bring to the love of her life. I can afford her this time, and she comes home with me. Bundled up and buckled in to the passenger seat of my car. My very own. She is mine.
But how lonely she looks on my dresser, by herself. However, now that I have found one, I am hopeful that one day I will find another. And I tell stories of her to my friends, my teenager, and my husband. She has become a bit real sitting there, day after day, with her bundle of strawberries.
We decide that we are going to downsize and sell our 3400 square foot house this last summer. And we are one of the lucky ones. We sell our house in 10 days, and we need to be out in 30 days. Now, I am a collector and a store owner. And I have stuff. So I begin madly packing up...and packing...and house hunting. But Viviene stays on my dresser. She will be hand carried to the next home, wherever that might be.
Then I run in to a friend of mine, Kristen. She tells me that she has a house that she is selling. So my husband and I go and look. We turn the key, and realize that this could be the one. It has all that we need, a basement for my "junque", and garage for him, two bedrooms, and more closet space than our big house. And as I open the linen closet, I gasp for air. I truly can' t breathe. For on the top shelf, way in the back of this empty house, is Antoine.
I call my friend. She had rented the house out to an estate sale company, and Antoine must have been someone's purchase. OR just left over, or...how does one explain this? I am breathless to see if Antoine can be mine, and I am not sure that my friend understands my mission. So when she comes to my house, I show her Vivienne. And I try not to sound too crazy, but insist that Antoine must be mine. I, of course, haven't told her that I have made up stories of them. How important it is that Viv has a friend.
But, we buy the house. And...Antoine is in the house when we arrive. Waiting...
and now, they are together. My son has decided that Antoine is the theatre director at the local college, and I have concluded that Viv and Antoine are soul mates. And the strawberries? They are for Antoine.
30 years later, a dream comes true. Perhaps...someday...there will be a family. but for now, they have each other.