When I was a little girl, there was nothing I loved more than playing with dolls, so I was delighted that my younger daughter, Ally, had a love for them, too. I also loved reading, so I was a happy mama the year Ally turned five and I gave her the American Girl doll, Felicity, and the books that went with her. Felicity lived in colonial times, so I thought it would be a wonderful idea to take a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg where Ally could experience some of the activities a girl like Felicity would have experienced. We could also visit American Girl Place, which was located nearby, where Ally, Felicity, and I could enjoy a tea party. I suggested this trip, numerous times, to my husband, but I think I lost him when I started talking about dolls. Anyway, I could never get him on board with my plan. Once, he did travel through Williamsburg on business. He brought me back a set of DVD’s called Colonial Williamsburg, (thanks, Honey) but that’s as close as I got. Until a few years ago, that is, when business took him there again, and Ally and I had the chance to go along. Since Ally was sixteen at the time, it would obviously not be the trip I had dreamed of, but it was sure to be a fun experience.
We arrived at our hotel on a Wednesday evening. Thursday was the only day Paul would have for sight-seeing and, as we lugged our bags onto the elevator, he looked at me and asked, “Where do you want to go tomorrow?”
“I want to go to Colonial Williamsburg,” I answered with a sigh.
You see, ever since our trip had been scheduled, we’d been having the same conversation over and over. Paul would ask me where I wanted to go and I would answer that I wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg.
He would respond with, “But where do you want to go when we get there?”
He would then tell me to go online, find out what was available to do, and make a plan. At that point, I would attempt to explain that Colonial Williamsburg was actually an attraction within the city of Williamsburg.
Standing in an elevator in Williamsburg, and hearing me say I wanted to go to Williamsburg, was almost more than the poor man could bear. He studied me for very a long moment. Finally, a look of awareness crossed his face and he seemed to resign himself to the fact that his wife was clearly unstable.
“It’s okay,” he said slowly. “I’ll just ask the guy at the desk for suggestions.”
After a conversation with the concierge, who was apparently able to communicate with my husband much better than I, Paul finally had his plan. On Thursday, we would go to Colonial Williamsburg. We would also visit Yorktown and Jamestown. Thursday turned out to be a beautiful day and the tours of Yorktown and Jamestown were informative and enjoyable. Saving the best for last, we arrived at Colonial Williamsburg at five o’clock and were told that the gates would be closing at five-thirty. (Too bad I hadn’t watched those DVD’s. If I had, I might have know the hours of operation.)
Disappointed, we walked through the part of the attraction that was free. Mainly it was merchandise for sale- things like clothes and toys that were replicas of those from colonial times. Paul made a wonderful attempt at enjoying himself and even offered to buy Ally a bonnet. Ally rolled her eyes and talked about the outlet mall we had passed on the way there. They both pretended not to hear when I tried to interest them in coming back later that evening for a lesson in historical dancing.
On our way back to the hotel, I looked at Ally and asked, “Where do you want to go tomorrow?”
Before she could respond, Paul answered for her, “She wants to go to Colonial Williamsburg.”
“Well,” I said, “I think we need to go online, see what’s available to do, and make a plan.”
After weighing our options, Ally and I decided to spend Friday morning outlet shopping and Friday afternoon at a spa. We had a lovely day and, although we didn’t learn anything about colonial times, we did find a good deal on a really cute pair of shoes.
That night, I tried to explain our reasoning to Paul, who simply could not understand why, after all the years I’d spent hoping to visit Colonial Williamsburg, I’d chosen not to go when I finally had the chance. I thought about seeing if the concierge could serve as our interpreter, but I was not ready to throw in the towel.
I now admit defeat. The other day, we were in Publix and we ran into a friend who had recently taken her five-year-old daughter to the American Girl restaurant in Atlanta. “She had so much fun dressing up and dining with her doll,” my friend said.
“I always wanted to do that with Ally,” I told her. “They didn’t have an American Girl restaurant in Atlanta then, but I wanted to take her to the one in Williamsburg.”
As Paul and I were walking across the parking lot a few minutes later he said, “Sugar, I didn’t know you wanted to do that with Ally. You should have said something. Y’all could have gone while we were in Williamsburg.”
I’m thinking of hiring that concierge to come live with us. Or at least put his number in my phone. It would be helpful to have a translator on call.