Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Memories of other places

Last week I finally said goodbye to some old friends. They said nothing in return.

These friends were the dolls and stuffed animals of my childhood. They were the ones who had survived several previous rounds of donations. They had been stashed away in big Rubbermaid containers or placed lovingly on shelves in a room that has been empty for the better part of a decade. I never would have mustered up the gumption to do anything about them if Mom hadn't so thoughtfully dumped them off in our garage during the Great Purge of 2010.

As I pulled each doll or stuffed animal out of its plastic bin, 9 times out of 10 the toy's name popped into my head out of nowhere. I may not be able to remember where I put my cute brown shoes last week (yes, they're still missing), but I remember all the crazy names of those toys. Us only children have to find companionship in the places we can, you know.

The timing was horrible. The Boyfriend and I had just watched the latest Toy Story movie. As I transferred these beautiful toys, one by one, into large garbage bags for donation, I thought of so many wonderful memories. And of course I heard them screaming for help a la Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

The one that particularly struck me was Margaret--a blonde-haired doll with a blue, flowered dress that looked to have come from the Amish book of fashion. She tagged around with Raggedy Ann and Andy but undoubtedly always felt like the odd-man out. In any case, her leg was still in a cast fashioned from athletic tape from her days as a patient during hospital. It was extra hard to say goodbye to her.

A few got to stay--but only a few. I could too easily be one of those people that looks around them one day and says, "but what if I need that newspaper from 1991?" I'm too sentimental. But what I realized with Margaret is that it's the memories that are important.

The last stuffed animal to face the chopping block was Benji. He looked so cute with his fur all disheveled, either from being well-loved or crammed in a box for a decade or both. I couldn't get rid of him, so in some perverse act of love I gave him to the dogs as a new stuffed animal toy. I knew Kira would love the size of him. His little belly would (and does) fit just perfect in her mouth.

I think Benji wishes he would have been donated.

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