When I was a young girl living with my grandmother, I recall her special room filled with mannequin heads wearing fancy hats, and Barbie dolls with clothes she fashioned herself. I believed there was hope for adults after all: that grown ups do not have to grow out of the world of play and pretend.
Lately my sister and I have been cleaning our garage, essentially a storage facility for our family. From my father’s old army fatigues and an out of tune piano to rusty tools and broken door knobs, we are unearthing nearly fifty years of history, determining what has some use or value from that which has past its utility in our hearts or lives.
A few days ago I opened one of my own boxes: stuffed animals.
Among the artifacts: Eugene the Jeep, a 4-dimensional Popeye character who we discovered at the emergency room ages ago. We believed he appeared there magically to make us feel better.
My Cabbage Patch: Brown hair, brown eyes, dark skin and round facial features, old nailpolish and lipstick stained onto her face. My family made sure we each had a Cabbage Patch that looked like us, a special alternative to the perky-blonde ice-skating Barbie doll we took turns playing with. I’ve had this doll since before I could even talk.
Bernardo O’Higgins aka Hitler: This little leopard joined the family when my mom was in jail, he saw some hard times, including the burden of two names because my sister and I could never agree on one.
How could I possibly give these guys up? Do grown-ups take these guys upstairs and put them on a stuffed animal shelf? I’m not 14 anymore, I am a 25 year old woman. I do not know what to do with this box.
I love these guys. But I’m not sure I want them in my bedroom.
I feel like I need to stop collecting things though. I don’t like the idea of holding onto things that I never use, never look at.
Have you ever opened a box and felt conflicted by your childhood? Have you donated your old toys and moved on or do you keep Barbies and old hats?