Friday, July 8, 2016

Things I Collect

Readers who have gotten to know me in the last four years have learned that I love Alice in Wonderland. If you've read Alabama Skye and/or A Skye Full of Stars, you know that Meara, one of the main characters in the series, runs a children's bookshop called The Cheshire Cat. There are murals painted in the main reading room of this imaginary bookshop ... characters from the books portraying characters from Lewis Carroll's classic story. Noah is Alice herself, while Jimmy and Greer are Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum. Later, I posted in my street team, J.C.'s Wingdom (on Facebook) that Keene would most likely be the Mad Hatter. I had a fascination for this story and the characters from a very young age. I remember my grandfather, (a man I lovingly referred to as "Grampa with the mustache on it") buying me a beautiful baby blue and white checked dress with a sheer white pinafore and a bell sewn into the fluffy layers of the spinning skirt. That was my Alice dress. Oh, how I loved that dress! I had it on when I blew out the candles on my Alice in Wonderland cake on my fifth birthday.

I had a record player. I remember it vividly. It was made out of light brown plastic, and I played records on it often. I had the soundtrack to Disney's Alice in Wonderland, and I listened to that album over and over again. What was it about this story that I found so appealing? Honestly? I have no idea. I was five. I had my reasons, I'm sure, I just don't remember now what they were.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City with my mom, my aunt Donna and my cousin Natalie. I jumped at the chance, and while I was there, I took a walk through Central Park and got to see the famous Alice in Wonderland statue that resides there.

I even had my picture taken at the theater when we went to see Alice Through the Looking Glass earlier this summer.


It's true that Alice in Wonderland is something I hold close to my heart ... and there are a lot of fun things I see pertaining to the book/movie that I would love to buy. I have received some beautiful gifts with an Alice theme from some incredible friends, and I so appreciate them. I have a t-shirt and a wonderful collection of Alice in Wonderland teas. I have two Alice in Wonderland coloring books, and I've built up quite a lot of pins on Pinterest having to do with the book. I do collect Alice in Wonderland things ... but this post actually has nothing at all to do with Alice or any of the other characters from the story.

I don't remember exactly when I began to be intrigued by the tale of Peter Pan. I know it had everything to do with reading the book - or a version of it - when I was a child. I think I was about seven or eight at the time ... and I loved Peter and Wendy, but the character that really struck a chord with me was Tinker Bell. Oh  my, was she feisty! She was nothing like me. I was a very shy little girl. I was afraid ... well, of everything, really if I'm honest. I was friendly and so wanted to please everyone ... but I was so very, very timid. In Barrie's book, the extremes in Tink's personality are explained by the fact that a fairy's size prevents her from holding more than one feeling at a time. I'm totally different. I've always felt so many things all at once ... and I feel them in a big way. I was (and still am in many ways) Tink's polar opposite, and this little fairy intrigued me so very much.

“Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change.”
J.M. Barrie,
Peter Pan

“It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens 

This is Tink's introduction in J.M Barrie's beautiful tale:

For a moment after Mr. and Mrs. Darling left the house the night-lights by the beds of the three children continued to burn clearly. They were awfully nice little night-lights, and one cannot help wishing that they could have kept awake to see Peter; but Wendy's light blinked and gave such a yawn that the other two yawned also, and before they could close their mouths all the three went out.

There was another light in the room now, a thousand times brighter than the night-lights, and in the time we have taken to say this, it had been in all the drawers in the nursery, looking for Peter's shadow, rummaged the wardrobe and turned every pocket inside out. It was not really a light; it made this light by flashing about so quickly, but when it came to rest for a second you saw it was a fairy, no longer than your hand, but still growing. It was a girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint. [plump hourglass figure]

A moment after the fairy's entrance the window was blown open by the breathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still messy with the fairy dust.

"Tinker Bell," he called softly, after making sure that the children were asleep, "Tink, where are you?" She was in a jug for the moment, and liking it extremely; she had never been in a jug before.
"Oh, do come out of that jug, and tell me, do you know where they put my shadow?"

The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the fairy language. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if you were to hear it you would know that you had heard it once before.

Tink said that the shadow was in the big box. She meant the chest of drawers, and Peter jumped at the drawers, scattering their contents to the floor with both hands, as kings toss ha'pence to the crowd. In a moment he had recovered his shadow, and in his delight he forgot that he had shut Tinker Bell up in the drawer.

When I was sixteen, I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to Europe with twelve other kids from my high school. Cindy Lopez, my unforgettable French teacher, (she also taught Spanish and was the power house behind Clear Creek Secondary School's theater program) planned a magical three weeks for us in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. It was while I was in France that I began what became a really fun collection of Peter Pan books. This first book was a Disney version of the tale, in French, of course. I had that book for a very long time ... but it wound up disappearing throughout the years. When I realized I couldn't find it, I was heartbroken. 

As an adult, I started building my collection again.

I only have six books, but each and every one of them is special to me for different reasons.

I have a beautiful German version. It's one of the most intricate pop up books I've ever seen. I bought it in Kaiserslautern. My family and I lived not far from the city for two years, and we visited a wonderful three story bookstore in the city a couple different times. The clerk who helped me find it wasn't at all sure I'd want this particular book, but the second I saw it, I fell in love with it.

When we lived in Germany, we took a trip to London. This was such a remarkable journey for so many different reasons ... but one of the most amazing things for me was that I finally got to visit the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens.

This was a very big deal for me.

I also bought a copy of the book in London.

When we got news that our time living in Europe was coming to an end, I was bummed. We were told before we made the move that we'd have one more year of an existing contract for my husband's job, and that we'd then have another five years of a new contract. I had big plans. Big travel plans. I come from Greek ancestry on my father's side, and I have always wanted to visit Greece. I had a cruise all set up, leaving from Italy and spending more than a week visiting all the places I'd dreamed about seeing. The trip never happened. I wrote a post on a family blog I kept back then about how I didn't want to leave Europe until I had a chance to go to Athens and buy a Peter Pan book in Greek. Less than a week after we returned back to the States, I received a gift.

The book on the left is the one I bought in London. The one on the right has the same cover, but the book is written in Greek.
My best friend, Jennifer Bleyle, had read that blog post. She then went online and found a Greek version of the book and had it sent to me. 

I was so emotional about leaving Germany ... and then my kids and I were separated from my husband for Christmas. I was kind of a mess, and receiving this book was such a special, sweet surprise. Jennie ... well, let's just say she knows my heart.

She's the one who gave me another French version of the book as well.

My collection is small, but it's a beautiful one.

I have two Pinterest accounts. (If ever I write a post about addictions, Pinterest will be at the top of the list.) One of the accounts is for writing. Follow me, please! I have a board for each one of my books, and I pin on a weekly basis. You'll find my Alice in Wonderland board there. I have a personal Pinterest account, too. My profile picture on that one is Tink, and I have a Tinker Bell board with hundreds of pins. 

I also have a tattoo ... Tink stands on the back of my left shoulder. She's been there for twenty-six years now. Poor thing is a bit faded, but she's always with me. Funny ... she's faded a bit, but I've only become stronger, more vibrant as time has passed. 

Perhaps some of her feisty, spirited nature has rubbed off on me throughout the years.