the heart wants what it wants . . .

When I was a kid, I wanted an American Girl doll. Oh, how I wanted one. Sometimes it felt physically painful, how much I wanted one. I had an American Girl catalogue, and I used to pore over it for hours on end. I couldn’t decide between Samantha or Felicity, and I pondered this question as though it had as much weight as deciding to have a real child.

I mean, Samantha was my original favorite, the clear winner. Victorian! Gorgeous brown hair! And those outfits . . . a girl could only dream of such outfits today! Then Felicity was released, and suddenly my love of Johnny Tremain/ history/ the Revolutionary War came up against my yearning for a beautiful, elaborate doll with lots of gorgeous clothing and a whole book series.

Of course, I never got one. I mean, have you looked at the price of those dolls? They’re insane! As an adult, I look at these dolls and feel a fleeting, yearning wisp of emotion, a pale echo of the sheer want I once had. There’s a part of me, screaming over the echo of years, saying, “Get one! Get one now!” And the rest of me kind of laughs and says, “Uh, why? What on earth would I do with it? That is an insane amount of money to spend for pretty.”

I bring this up because I get the same feeling — not the yearning, but the weirdly years-old echo of it — when I look at this cover from Barnes and Noble, for the Nook:

See how pretty?! It’s the Jane Street Cover in Bright Pink and Marmalade. The outside (obviously) is bright pink, the inside is a lovely orangey-gold color. Those words on the front? She kept her nose in a book . . . They match the whimsical phrase on the back: and her head in the clouds


Isn’t it darling? So pretty and pink and whimsical and perfect. I wantsssss it, my precioussss . . . and then I look at the price ($125), and I just goggle. There is absolutely no way to justify that expense. I was easily able to justify the Nook, and I soon after bought a lovely leather cover in the $25 – $30 range (their lowest-prices covers). I buy an e-book about twice a month. But there’s no way I could possibly purchase that — or even accept it as a gift — and not feel like a wasteful, horrid, selfish person. I look at that beautiful cover, and it doesn’t matter how much I like it, it just feels selfish and thoughtless and pointless to spend $125 on something that’s essentially just . . . pretty.

It’s really too bad. It’s such a pretty cover. I just wouldn’t like to be that person . . . the person who blew a $125 on something so essentially useless. It’s the same feeling I get when I look at Felicity or Samantha, but somehow it’s weirder, more intense. Like, with Felicity and Samantha, that expense could have been justified, once. When I was young and I would have gotten hours and hours of play out of them. But I can’t think of any world or any circumstance where paying $125 for a leather e-book cover is remotely justifiable, and I find myself a little sad that it’s even a possibility, which taints even my pleasure in admiring the prettiness of it.

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