I confess. I went and stood in the middle of the scrapbooking section at Hobby Lobby today. As some of you know, I haven't had much to do with paper scrapping since that ill-fated occasion when I decided I was going to Make Cards As My New Hobby. Y'know, the one where I spent six hours buying $30 worth of stuff, making 3 cards, burning my fingers, spilling glitter, cutting crookedly, and making a mess; and packing everything up at the end to give away and calling it a career (someday maybe those 3 cards will bring in big bucks on eBay when I'm famous). And then I discovered that you could do scrapbooking on the computer and every creative cell in my body stood up and danced (admittedly, there are a LOT of cells in my body, and a fair percentage of them are creative, so imagine the metabolism boost I got that day! Pity the excitement didn't last about 40 pounds longer.).
But just for old times' sake, (ok, not very old, and not very much time) I decided to go soak up the atmosphere of the paste-eater territory to see if I felt any differently about my short lived Career In Cards. Or just to see if there were any wicked cool new things I could do with my digital files to help assuage the niggling feeling in the back of my mind that Digi Ain't As Good As Crooked Paper And Lumpy Glue No Matter What All Your DigiFriends Say. So I mosey down an aisle or two, touching this, peering at that, tsk-tsk-ing at some of the garish color combinations, oooohing in whispered admiration of a particularly winsome page kit package, and suddenly I find myself raptly examining the little cellophane packages of goodness that go under the Jolee label (I don't know if I spelled that correctly or not, but I'm not going to look it up lest I see some more and fall instantly under the spell of their attraction again. That was a scary moment and I don't think I ought to repeat it again in the same day because I'm not as young as I was, y'know?). I don't know exactly how long I was in the thrall of miniature paper reproduction mania - I know I fingered everything from a miniature motorcycle jacket, bike and suitably "macho" accoutrements to a dreamy wedding gown, cake, and tux ensemble that made my hormones sigh wistfully in concert with my quickened breathing. Eventually, I did come back to myself (yes, it WAS at the end of the aisle, what are you insinuating?) and moved to another, safer aisle to ponder the phenomenon.
I spent a few minutes staring sightlessly at large, brightly colored plastic beads, trying to place the peculiarly familiar feeling that had swept over me just moments before. The fascinating, tantalizing taste of things to come, the urge to finger, the projection of the object into my imagination and yet the curious tang of identification... and then it hit me. The last time I felt this pull, this simultaneous tug of desire warring with greed (with a whiff of surrender, ever-so- faint) was in the toy department. Fingering wedding dresses. Motorcycle jackets. Peculiar plastic shoes with squiggly high heels, curiously malformed to fit a permanently flexed arch. Plastic tennis racquets, pom-pom poodles, impossible tights that rarely rose to their full length but rather tended to bind an inch or so below the intended target despite frantic tugging with object firmly gripped between knees. Snazzy pink plastic convertibles with impossibly shiny fake chrome trim... well you get the idea. I had been living the Barbie dream in the Jolee aisle at the hobby store.
Dazed, I tried to shake it off. Pushing my blue craft-sized grocery store cart distractedly into the Paint Wooden Shapes For Lasting Fun And Value aisle, I argued with Barbie-loving me.
"That's ridiculous. The Little Shapes were Flat," protested Denial Julie.
"But represent all the major girl-heart triggers of modern life," Barbie girl fired back. "And besides, until Barbie, all appealing girl toys were flat. Remember your mother's paper dolls?"
She had me. My mom and her little sister used to spend hours with cheap manila paper and crayons, first designing their glamorous Paper Beauties, complete with riotous curls and vivid lips (not to mention the subtle and rather innocently defined curves), and then equipping them with a movie star wardrobe of every conceivable purpose, ranging from ski clothes (complete with skis and poles) to shapely frothy evening gowns sure to grace the spotlight waltz with Fred Astaire. I remember finding the little box she kept them in when I was in Jr. High. Back then, I was stunned that my mother had been that clever, to be honest. Amazed at her imagination. Humbled by her ingenuity. To the point that when she found the box years later, I asked her to scan some of them and email them to me as my birthday gift.
Because I have an optimistic and flexible (OK, it's peculiar) sense of humor, I find this tremendously amusing. This realization that no matter how savvy, how advanced, how sophisticated we become; no matter what technological strides we make or what accomplishment we achieve, or emancipation we experience, we can still be brought up short by the little girl inside that practices and expands her future life experiences, joys, triumphs and creativity...
... through a few simple scraps of paper.