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Dixie looked at me intently with her enormous brown eyes, questioning me. "Do I really have to go? I don't understand." I met her gaze. I took her in like I did when I was a girl, her brown braids in loops, her floppy yellow hat and yellow skirt flowing in layered ruffles with her white petticoat peeking out from below and I thought, not for the first time, that she was overdoing this southern belle thing. Well, she did hail from Nashville.
"Well," I said, "I guess you could stay on the steps for awhile until I figure out what to do with you."
"The steps?" she cried. " You mean the steps to nowhere? The steps to the unfinished attic that has been a source of tension between you and him? The steps that collect everything that you don't know what to do with? That you don't have a home for? What kind of an existence is that for someone like me?"
Oh wait! Dixie didn't say that. That was my conscience butting in on that eyesore that is the steps to the unfinished attic, that collects everything and, well, you know the rest. After all, Dixie is just a doll. A doll that I've had since, well, I can't really remember. I just remember that my parents went on a bus trip to Nashville, Tennessee and brought her back for me. I had a collection of dolls from various places that I displayed on a shelf. I had dolls from Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Holland, a native American doll from Busch gardens and others. They were retired to my parents' attic some time before I moved out on my own and they resided there until my mom passed away almost 2 years ago. I rediscovered them and gave my daughter and stepdaughter a chance to choose what they wanted from the bunch before I gave them to Goodwill. My daughter chose Dixie. Hard to believe that now.
Some time in the last year and a half Dixie, as adorable as she is, has become possessed with the ability to scare the bejesus out of my 6 year old daughter. They shared a bedroom together for awhile with no problems, but now, Dixie is more frightening than any of the Halloween items that I recently bought for a scary scavenger hunt for my daughter's upcoming Halloween party.
And this change has been a source for more than just a little aggravation for me. For months now, my daughter has refused to go into her room to get dressed or for anything else if Dixie is in there, so, for months, Dixie has been shuffled back and forth between her room and mine, according to wherever my daughter needed to be at the time. This also meant that every time I instructed my daughter to do something, we had to answer the question, "Where is Dixie?" And I had to get up and make her path Dixie free for that particular task. This is how she came to be known as Travelin' Dixie.
I kept meaning to find a solution to this problem, but I kept putting it off. I kept thinking she would grow to appreciate this collector's item doll and I shouldn't give it away. In the meantime I kept asking questions:
"Why is she so scary now? You chose her. She never scared you before."
"What is it you think she is going to do when you go into a room with her, suddenly jump up and dance a jig?"
"What is so scary about her?"
I am ashamed to admit that my frustration level lead me to ( good naturedly now) make Dixie sing a silly song or do a silly dance on her way to another location, prompting an exasperated " Mo-om!" from my daughter. But it didn't change her feelings towards Dixie.
I did, however, get a response to my third question.
"Dixie, it's your eyes. They are just too darn big. Unnaturally big and scary. So it's no woman's land for you today. Tomorrow, maybe Goodwill. Who knows?"
"Until then, so long Dixie."