Everyone who lived here had to take a vow of poverty and give everything they had to the community. All money and possessions were communal. Some of the things we had in our bus were secret. Our peacock feather wasn’t secret but it should be, staring at it’s incredible beauty shining in the sunlight was one of my favorite things. My mom brought it from New York and we were so lucky she got to keep it. I hope we get to keep it always. Positioned in the bus windows above my bed, I wanted to look at it’s iridescent colors forever.
Our peacock feather, me and Sky on my bed in our bus.
Deborah had other beautiful treasures I liked to look at. The illegal jewelry that she was suppose to have gotten rid of because you weren’t suppose to have fancy things like jewelry. But she still had some of her most special jewelry in a little box. Somehow I knew she felt kind of grumbly about “them” wanting her to get rid of her things that she really loved – like the earrings her good friend gave her. I was completely enthralled with these big silver diamond shapes with little bells. Some of the neatest things I’d ever seen. I loved taking them out and fantasizing about wearing them someday. My mom had pierced ears but she couldn’t wear them or people would see she still had them. We had to keep them hidden in this little box. I liked our secret treasure.
It was about a mile and a half -really, really far I thought- up the dusty dirt road to go give “The Bank Lady” any money I got from my grandparents in my birthday card. The bank lady sat at the special white building across the road from the horse barn. When I would get a card with paper in it my mom would get me dressed, put on my shoes, coat and hat, hand me my paper to carry and off we’d go. After our long march on this strange mission, I would stand in front of The Bank Lady, waiting for some other people to stop talking to her. She had long pretty, brown hair flowing over her shoulders. Then I’d hand her my paper from my Grandparents. The Bank Lady wrote something down and put it in a little metal box..
Toys were a scarce, precious commodity. Any plastic toy was rare and other-worldly. The sheer delight I felt when my grandparents sent me two Barbie dolls, one girl, one boy, was overwhelming. I had never seen barbie dolls before, no one had barbie dolls! It was the best thing ever! Little people to play with? And they could bend? And they were mine? I felt like shaking, shuddering, crying, calling out and parting the heavens for pure ecstatic joy. As I ran from our bus to the house I could glide and the whole world was smiling at me, everything was beautiful and shining and wonderful, the sunshine loved me, the wind was laughing with me, the leaves on the trees were dancing in celebration, I was floating on bubbles made from fairies -exquisite, fabulous barbie doll fairies- blowing me kisses. I was the happiest, luckiest girl in the entire world.
For about 1 day.
After dazzling all the house kids with my amazing dolls, spending a whole day in the house playing and sharing my incredible new dolls with the house kids, something very, very, very, very horrible happened.
On the 2nd day of being the luckiest girl in the world – where were my dolls? They were right here, where did they go? Desperately, I searched and searched everywhere, inside and out and asked everyone. No one knew. I just kept searching. They had to be somewhere. I had to find them. Searching and searching my heart was sinking and breaking that I could not find them. I would not give up until I found them. I would look everywhere. I just had to find the best thing that I had ever, and possibly would ever, own. Everyone watched me keep searching. They seemed to have a solemn look on their faces.
Then, finally, one of the adults stopped me from my austere, determined searching and looked me right in the face and said that Jeffrey, one of the older boys who liked to torment me, cut them up and threw them under the house. I was horrified.
But I could still get the pieces and maybe put them back together somehow!
I darted outside running to the place that had an opening under the house. It was dark and damp. I stuck my head under smelling the musty dankness, all senses acutely scanning for the dismembered body parts. As my eyes adjusted I didn’t see them anywhere. I kept looking. Then I saw something. A piece of the flesh colored rubber. I picked it up and looked at it. But, what in the world? Why was it so tiny? It shouldn’t be tiny. Cut up barbie dolls should be in large chunks like I imagined when the person told me they were cut up. But then I found another piece and then, oh for love of God, no, God!! Please no, God. Noooo! The tears gushed uncontrollably from my face as I picked up tiny piece after tiny piece. Hundreds of tiny pieces lay in the dark dirt completely shredded into nothing but specks of plastic unrecognizable of anything it had ever been. No, I wasn’t going to be able to put the pieces back together at all. My brand new, best present that I had ever gotten was dead and shredded and gone forever.