Knowing she was leaving her life as she knew it, that she was starting anew, that she didn't know what was waiting, was all a bit too scary. Too scary for such a little girl you would say. Oh! but you don't know her, not like I do. She is anything but strong, anything but fearless, anything but hopeful, she has a heart made of gold. Even though she did feel a little sting of apprehension, she knew how to hide it well. Like when someone passes you a folded piece of paper under the desk at school, and feeling the Teacher's gaze burning on your shoulders you lift your eyes to find yourself scorned and questioned: that's when you hide it. You hide your feelings, deep, deep inside you, and with a blank innocent face pretend like you have no idea what the fuss is all about. With the same blank face, like it was nobody's business, she went aboard that big and smelly boat. With the same face she waved good-bye to her island, to her northern sea, to her rock giants and green pastures. She waved good bye to the mist, and the salt in the air. She was happy. And sad. But she knew this was right.
The trip was long, it took many weeks. She loved to spend time on the decks, and run a little, give her strong legs something to be achy about. She spent many afternoons, rocked by the sweet lull of the ocean, tucked in her thoughts, dreaming about this foreign and mysterious land she was about to land. Would she make friends soon? Who would come to pick her up? What do people eat in America? Would they have nice porridge? (*sorry again for the porridge reference...I am slightly obsessed!). So many questions, nobody to answer.
After a while she decided to sketch the birds and other animals she saw floating about around the boat. There were some turtles, and dolphins too. She really didn't know what they were at first, but a sailor took it upon himself to greet her every morning, and let her know the names of all those things he knew about the ocean. She became very fond of this kind sailor, and always saved a piece of muffin or tea biscuit for him the next day. He felt better having made a new friend, in this new life of hers. These two became very close, and when the time came to get off the boat, B e l l a was rather sad to say good-bye to the last known person she had just met.
Disembarking on a new land, with new smells, new sights, new streets and ways to do things, is very disconcerting to say the least; but to a child, who sees everything through fresh eyes, it is all magic. What else if not magic? Magic that weaves a new continent, a new country, a new place to call home. Magic that takes you from the place where you land, to a beautiful farm, nestled in the history of those that are soon to envelop you in love and tears of joy. Magic that clothes you and feeds you, and gives you another family, another bed to sleep in, and a new chapter.
Bella crossed the Atlantic all by herself, aboard a boat, to meet a long-lost loving arm of her family. She immigrated to the United States a hundred or so years ago. Bella, the doll, is my interpretation of this particular bit of family history. She is a custom doll, and we will probably let her talk a little next time she comes to see you here. I will see you soon!.