Okay, now I'm tired.
Has anyone else had to do this? After posting earlier I went downstairs with the idea of cleaning out some of my old toys, breaking open a few more boxes of "mementos" that I packed away when I was younger. It's hard. Part of being a part of a consumer culture is the fact I have so much more to go through when the time comes to say good bye. Part of it is, what do I need to remember my childhood by? I'll save the only photo of me in kindergarten--waterstained as it is--but do I need all ten years of softball photos. No. Which then? The year we won the league. God, was I skinny then. I can't believe I thought I was fat. The rest will get burned. Not thrown away, not recycled: burned. Cleansing, purging. Another box for Goodwill, another box for garbage. And the smallest: things I want to save.
Then the toys. I break open my Barbie case and smooth tiny dresses, pink explosions, fashions from fifteen years ago in neon colors and odd shoes. I tell myself you can keep ONE DOLL. I have twenty. None of them are going to be worth anything except to me, no "mint in box" here. I'm surprised at how well-preserved they are, tiny blonde faces grinning up at me, each neatly dressed. This is old-school Barbie, back when the proportions are at their most ridiculous, the eyes wide and always blue. The Barbies are in a separate box from my Skipper, Cortney, Ariel and Arista. Ariel who took countless baths with me. And Skipper--my favourite--who lost her left hand in a tragic accident involving a huge slobbering dog. This is harder than I thought. I try to be skeptical: if I was a thrift store, I could probably resell the Barbies, who are preserved, coiffed. But Skipper won't sell, not with a hand missing. In the end, the Barbies are packed away again and put by the bottom of the stair, to be taken to the thrift store, and the teens stay. For now.
Laura called me about halfway through my purge and helpfully mentioned how it felt like Toy Story 2, where the toys are donated and it's heartbreaking. I decide to leave the kid's books for later. Of course I had always hoped that someday I would have kids of my own to play with my toys, but by that point there will be better Barbies, or hipster dolls who are designed to look like my kids, or internet dolls that require no tiny clothes whatsoever. And maybe I would hang on to these toys forever and never be able give them to my kids while in the meantime there are kids today who could play with them. It hurts--it's like unhooking myself from tethers of the past, but it feels good too. Freeing. And, in the end, I still have my memories.