I will probably bore you, my dear, dear audience-friends for the next three months. But as I walk these tender steps forward on this journey with Anne Frank, I am continually overcome with emotion.
Yeah. I’m dramatic.
Yeah. I’m sensitive.
Yeah. I’m overemotional.
Today, my Beloved and I went on a date to Joanne Fabric. My mother-in-law is an amazing seamstress (wording?). I know how to hold a needle. Fortunately, some of my mother-in-law’s sewing acuity was passed down to my Beloved so he was the perfect person to take on this date.
What a romantic date….
Just before we left, I spent some time online. I researched the types of stars the Franks might have worn. Turns out, there were different stars for the Dutch from the ones I have always seen in German-based films and documentaries.
I also spent time staring at what I believe is the cover to Anne’s diary. Stared at the plaid patterns and hoped that I would find something relatively similar at the store. Because the actress playing Anne knows how to book-bind and it would be amazing if she could create an actual diary to be used in the play.
Yeah, I’m probably going overboard on this.
But as I was preparing to leave and spent time on the Anne Frank House website, I found pictures of her room. As it is currently preserved in the actual Anne Frank House. Perched on the corner of her bed is a white teddy bear, possibly a Steif.
I keep on forgetting that Anne was a real girl. I looked at pictures of her ice skating, her body slightly hunched over her friend’s as they made a caterpillar of giggling girls circling the ice. I looked at pictures of her room, a picture of the Thinker on the wall.
I looked at a picture of a teddy bear that is possibly eighty years old and not been held or loved in over seventy.
My Beloved and I went to Joanne’s, and right outside the store, in an impulse buy bin were brown and white teddy bears. It’s not a perfect fit. The bear has eyelashes to indicate she’s female. She has a bow attached to her right ear, a scarf wrapped around her neck. But the body shape is relatively similar, the long lanky limbs reminiscent of the Steif on Anne’s bed.
I scooped up the bear, tossed her haphazardly in my basket. Entered the store.
Thank God my Beloved was with me. We spent about an hour looking at yellow fabric, comparing it against pictures I had saved on my phone. When I was frustrated with one picture, I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and looked at yet more stars of David. I had to do my best to find as much authenticity in this one detail.
Even though the fabric I selected is completely wrong. But I needed something that won’t fray and will handle rough treatment because for three nights, the students will be cutting the stars off their clothing and let a reverse negative continue to tell a silent, tragic story.
But the color is ugly and perfect. Because it looks old, it looks stained. It looks dark and sad and I want this.
I found the fabric that is as perfect for the diary as I could find. Anne’s diary seems to be a red/white plaid combination. The plaid my Beloved and I selected has blue threads run through. However, in the end, it was the closest I could find. And I have no regret about my purchase.
About ten minutes ago, I cut up the yellow fabric into oblong squares, threaded a needle into a corner, carefully folded the squares around the needle, tucked loops of thread into the material. Tucked the entire packet into a sandwich bag.
One bag for each actor playing a Jewish character.
Because over the winter holiday, they will make their stars. They will take this personal journey which will continue to remind them of the reality they are portraying.
After I finished the star-packets, I picked up the bear. Stared at the bow, the scarf. I was going to use a seam-ripper to remove them, pick out the stitches keeping everything together. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t completely remove our individual marks that will differentiate us from history.
My co-director might disapprove of my purchases. As I have already removed the tag, then I will absorb the cost and will keep the bear in my classroom, give my students something to hold when they need comfort, need a de-stressor.
But, for now, the bear will wear her red-black plaid scarf and bow and will stay intact. Tomorrow might be different. Right now, she is back in the bag, waiting to go to school. Waiting to be held and loved by the actress who will play Anne Frank. Likely, the bear will be passed from student to student, will even be carried at least once by my co-director.
And I keep on thinking about the star of David from Auschwitz that now bears tiny bits of me, a refusal to be buried by the eons of hatred that tries to overcome the world.
I partially unfolded the diary-fabric. Stretched it over my knees and ran my hands over it. My hands are dry; as the winter weather settles over us, my skin becomes a drought-striken landscape and everything feels rough. Smooth fabrics feel like they catch on every roughed up patch on my palms. But, the diary-fabric, I just ran my hands across it, felt the softness, absorbed the warmth that was already pouring into my legs.
This is right. This is very right.
I bought twelve skeins of yarn. And as I thought about it, I thought about how the number twelve symbolizes the twelve tribes of Israel.
I have six white, six blue skeins. And tomorrow, I will start crocheting a rippled afghan alternating blue and white. As a symbol of the flag of Israel. The ripples to pick up the points of the star of David.
Yes, I’m investing too much thought into this. But I feel like this is my calling. This is what I’m supposed to do. I don’t care if I have to pay for everything out of pocket.
Sometimes, doing the right thing means investing in the right thing. And I’m okay with that.