Ivy Ling is probably one of the best impulse purchases I have ever made. Unlike her best friend counterpart, Julie, I never actually planned to own an Ivy doll. I’m not really sure why the idea had never previously crossed my mind, considering I’ve always had a soft spot for Asian dolls. It wasn’t until July 2014 that I really became aware of Ivy’s existence, at which point I discovered, much to my dismay, that she was retiring. It was Ivy’s impending archival which prompted me to purchase not only her, but also Julie. Looking back, I guess it actually all worked out in my favor. I don’t know if I eventually would have purchased a Julie doll, who I had dreamed of for many years. But I can say with certainty that it would have taken much longer for me to work up the nerve to add Julie to my collection. I’m really glad that I made the decision to get Ivy when I did. Ivy and Julie came into my life at the perfect time, and that has made the pair that much more special to me.
I think my sister and I discussed buying Ivy for only one day. It all happened so quickly that my memory is somewhat blurred. No sooner had the naughty idea of ordering Ivy crossed our minds, had the dirty deed been done. For the first time in nine years, I was waiting for an American Girl doll to arrive in the mail. Marisol Luna had been my last brand new American Girl doll–she was my large Christmas present in 2005. It all felt surreal, and in a way, I couldn’t even contemplate what it would feel like opening up a brand new American Girl doll again. I’ll admit, I was sort of nervous–Ivy had been a last minute decision, so I feared I’d be disappointed. I remember the day she arrived quite vividly still. It was Tuesday, July 15, 2014 when the UPS truck pulled into my driveway to deliver Ivy. Even though it had been nearly a decade since I had ordered anything from American Girl, it was like I had never skipped a beat. Opening the box, pulling out the catalogue and advertisements, and looking at my new purchases all felt so natural. Ivy took my breath away when I removed the lid to her box. She’s actually one of the few dolls I’ve ever found attractive looking while still packaged. What lured me the most about Ivy was her stunning, decal brown eyes. The warmth of them reminded me so much of my beloved childhood Samantha. I loved the almond shape of her eye sockets and the quirky length of her jet black hair. It was a moment I’ll forever cherish, and a very significant one in terms of my collection.
Ivy has come to mean more to me than the first new American Girl doll in my collection as an adult. She’s actually taken on a much deeper significance. Whenever I look at Ivy, I remember that summer–it was a time of great change and progress in my life. I guess you could say that Ivy and Julie’s arrival (Julie came that same Friday) was somewhat inconvenient. Colleen and I had torn apart the living room to repaint it, so things were a little chaotic at our house. Ivy and Julie spent their first few weeks with me hanging out around the house. During the evenings, they sat beside me on the "jumbo couch" Colleen and I had created (which was both our couches put together in the center of the room). Home improvement projects like repainting are very common, but this particular one meant the world to Colleen and me. For over five years, we had to stare at the ugliest blue color on our living room walls. The color itself was actually tolerable, but the fact that the living room was only half painted, and half plastered was stressful. Dad had started the living room makeover project my senior year of high school, but after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the following fall, he never got around to finishing it. Every time we sat in our living room and gazed at the walls, we were reminded of the most painful times in our lives. The living room had this negative energy that weighed us down. I never liked spending time in there. But the emotional burden the living room once carried was banished by two coats of cheery, "honey caramel" paint. Since Ivy spent so much of her time being part of the project because she hung out in the living room with us, I associate her with that time in my life. That was the same summer Colleen and I also decided to repaint our bathroom, which had been previously decorated in moldy wallpaper. It was the first time since Dad passed away that I finally realized that Colleen and I could actually make it on our own, and looking at Ivy reminds me of that newfound inner strength.
As much as I’ve come to love and appreciate both Julie and Ivy, for some reason it is Ivy that holds more meaning to me. She may have been the unplanned addition to our family, but she feels like she belongs. She was a piece of my childhood that I was able to reclaim. Ever since we ordered her, I feel like it’s part of our normal, daily lives to buy stuff for our American Girl dolls. They spend so much more time out of the cabinets and with us. It’s all thanks to Ivy really, because she made me see what I was missing those nine years. She’s made me appreciate all the new changes that have been made to the American Girl line. Ivy has in her own way reassured me that everything will be okay, and that the future is bright and fully of possibilities. She reminds me of the summer of change in my life. The darkness that once clouded my life has finally lifted, and I feel like a large contributing factor was repainting the living room. I’ve never felt so free in my life, and Ivy got to be part of that liberation. Most importantly, Ivy will forever be a reminder to me that I have it within myself to to find the strength to make my own happiness.
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