What happened is that she was put into the attic for safekeeping and one very generous mother climbed up there much too late at night and snapped a photo so that her daughter could write about her childhood friend. Baby Jane? She brings people together.
Baby Jane was a gift from my Aunt Jane, further proof of how creative I was as a child when it came to naming dolls. While I might not have remembered my first birthday, I remember Baby Jane. It would be hard not to, really, considering that she went everywhere with me, most likely held by one of her arms, the proof of which is the large set of stitches that had to be sewn to reattach her cotton body to her little plastic limb.
What I love about Baby Jane is that she's more than just a toy. That poor crazy doll went through quite a bit, evidence of which lies as much in my mind as it does in her poor beleaguered little body. Why they make doll bodies out of white cotton cloth I'll never know - a nice muddy brown, that's what they need. Clothes come off (which they always do), baby gets dragged about (which they always do), baby gets washed (which they rarely do). Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately so for posterity's sake, the life of a loved baby doll is never fully washable from its body.
And the fact that she somehow managed to keep her limbs in tact even when surgeries were needed and that her soft body hasn't petrified from all that childhood love? Proof that when my mom stopped working to stay at home Baby Jane hit the wall and never quite came back. She was loved, always, and even now at almost thirty years old I had to stop myself from begging my mother through text message to "Send her to me!"- but when my mom came home and stayed, and then my sister appeared on the scene (we'll get back to that in a minute), Baby Jane changed from being a need-to to a want-to. She gained a little more time in her cradle and I got a little more time with other people in my life.
As it turns out, she is nearing thirty too, though she might be handling it better than me - she does have such a baby face. She's crazy, that girl, and even in the snapshot above I can't tell if she reminds me more of the baby Jesus from my childhood nativity set or if she's about to raise the roof and start the party off right. If you look closer you'll see she's not so innocent.
And this frightening shot, my friends, is the last piece of evidence of why this darn doll is so great. Even though that tear from cheek to cheek is the result of my little sister's determination to put the baby bottle IN HER FACE, it also allowed me the opportunity to talk to my friends about her hilarious "Mick Jagger" mouth as I got older. It didn't matter that I had no idea who that was or what he did, or that I most likely only saw a short clip on MTV that focused on a scandal I was much too young to understand. What mattered was that the doll I couldn't bring myself to give up? I didn't have to - she stayed cool and I stayed clueless, and that's about as much as any pre-teen can ask for.
That Baby Jane, she wasn't just a doll, she was a time in my life.