When I was in high school, we went on a school trip to Spain. It was my first trip without the parents and my first to continental Europe. I must have asked my mother if there was anything Spanish she would like me to bring back. All she said was do not bring any of that Lladro. I'm not certain I knew exactly what Lladro was, but she showed me those elongated figurines in a jewellery store and I understood.
But as soon as I saw her, I had to have her.
the face with her so delicate, perfect nose
the downcast eyes below exquisitely arched eyebrows
the hand, with the one finger, ever so gently holding on to her shawl
the detail of her shawl
...and the lovely calla lilies. two have broken stamens from the attempts to keep them clean.
I found out later that my mother didn't like callas, either.
But this figurine was for me. I fell in love with my 'Maria'. I later had fanciful ideas of collecting more, until I found out how much they cost outside of Spain. I still dream of finding her a companion.
And of going back to Spain.