When I was a child, I had but one dream1: to go to the American Girl Place in Chicago.
My youth was spent rotating through obsessions, but the American Girls was one of the more long-standing ones. For the better part of my adolescence and now into adulthood, I have loved American Girl. I love the dolls because they are just so gosh darn cute. I love their clothes. I love the books. I love that they teach girls history and self-esteem and to dream big. I love that the MT and I used to use ours to create epic murder mystery themed escapades. Each Christmas morning, I would dash up to the tree in hopes that there would be a large red box with a white star waiting for me. Each month, I eagerly waited by the mailbox for the catalog2. I subscribed to the magazine too. And wrote in several letters. Which were never published.
When I first learned there was an American Girl superstore in Chicago, I was probably ten or eleven. And I begged. I begged and begged. I wanted to go there so badly, to take my doll to the hair salon, buy her and I matching dresses, and then have lunch in the café where there are special chairs just for your doll.
Sadly, because I have oppressively cruel parents who denied me my every dream, it never came true. I never saw the American Girl Place in Chicago.
Friday, I walked the Millennium Mile. I dressed up really cute, did my hair, and tried to look like I was rich so I wouldn’t be looked at quite as strangely when I walked into Burberry and Coach.
But first, I had to take a detour. First into the Lego store. Then into the Disney store3.
Then to the American Girl Place, to live a childhood dream.
And no joke, I basically started crying when I walked in. Maybe because it was so darling. Mostly because it just made me feel ten again, sitting in the basement with the MT, playing ridiculous games with dolls that helped me pick my major.
Thank you, American Girl, for teaching me to love the past, and that stories can span centuries. Thank you for teaching me that dreams are worth having, and worth reaching for, and that every girl is a star in her own right.
And thank you for teaching me that American Girl dolls can comfortably double as newsboys, Star Wars characters, and people from Jupiter in the basement with the MT.
Thanks American Girl, for all those times with my sister.
- Though that dream changed daily, there was usually just one at a time.
- And still do.
- Really, how old am I?