I am helping my mother
prepare to move. We are cleaning out the shop behind the house.
Mom pulls out the first of the boxes, and hands it to me. The flaps pull apart with a dull
popping sound as I open it. I look inside and find, of all things, the foundations of myself
. A simple stacked structure of mildewed paper bricks
; I pull the first one out, and it has a name.
Here, behind it, sit the chronicles of Narnia
, and there, A Wrinkle in Time
. I lift them out, one after another, turning their damp, wrinkled surfaces over in my hands. A few tear apart as I pull them free from the box, and I say silent prayers over their ancient remains
. But the best ones - Oh, the best ones all survived. They have waited for me.
This is only the first box. We continue into the stack, tearing into box after box of nostaligia
. We find more books, and my old lego
s. I knew they were here somewhere; knew they were in this box before we opened it. I could never forget that sliding clink clank mixing sound that made me so happy on many a Christmas
Day. These are the plastic bricks of my foundations
. They have waited for me.
Further in, we strike gold
. Mom opens a box and sighs, "Oh." I look into the box, and see a jumble of familiar faces. My very first foundations, of cotton and fabric, of warm friendly stuffing. These are my stuffed animals. They have waited for me.
But they have not waited alone. There is a mouse. He has chewed a hole in the head of brown lion, and pulled out some of the stuffing to craft a warm bed
for himself. Now he is crouching silently in the sudden light
of the open box, quivering and scared. Poor guy. I pick up the box and carry it out of the shop, while the mouse digs down further, where he can hide. Slowly I pull the animals out until there is only a crude sock puppet
left, and the mouse hiding under it. I walk around behind the shop with the box, and silently tell the mouse that I'm sorry I have to take his house away, and that I hope he got as much comfort and joy from those animals as I did
. Then I turn him loose in a quiet place next to some old boards, where he has some things to hide under. I want him to live for a long time.
I go back to the stuffed animals, and look closer, more slowly. I cannot remember what names I gave them when I was young, but I give them new names as I look at them now: Brown Lion
, Yellow Bunny
, Musical Sheep
, Snoopy Dog
, and everpresent Teddy Bear
. Yellow Bunny is my favorite, always was my favorite. He is their leader, the man in charge. He is the best. Musical sheep is soft and quiet, the sad one of the bunch. He plays Mary Had a Little Lamb
, and sways his head slowly when you wind him up. It always makes me want to cry when I see that slow head dance of his. He moves so slowly
, so sad, like he misses someone from long ago. Brown Lion is the protector, the guardian angel. He is missing an ear and has a hole in his head, but he can be repaired. Snoopy
Dog is funny just like Charlie Brown
's, but with a nose and an eye chewed off by baby teeth. Teddy bear is an old veteran. Looks like the dog got him, but he's hanging in there.
We continue on like this for hours
, finding old sleds, my brother's toys, more and more books, so many things that I treasure
d, that I built myself on without even realizing it. They have waited for me, and they wait now for my children
These things are in my apartment now. Mom won't have room for them in the new place, and anyway, having found them again, I could never trust them to anyone else
. Last week, when I wasn't so busy, I spent several evenings in the deepest depths of Lego Zen
, 'til 4 in the morning some nights. I now have a castle, a lego shrine, the coolest spaceship
anyone has ever designed, and some intersting ideas about surrealist lego art
. It hurts to stumble across my floor in the mornings, just as it did when I was a kid. Sharp plastic edges digging into my feet. My shelves and dresser are jammed with books
. I was full up to start with, but these books need homes in the light
, where I can see them and hold them, cut my fingers on their pages. The stuffed animals have retired to my closet, but out on a shelf with the door open, so they can look out into the room. I want them to see me working, playing with legos, and doing those things that I do. I want to look back through their gleaming plastic eyes into the eyes of that child that was
, and tell him how much I miss him. And I want him to look back through those stuffed animals, through yellow bunny and brown lion, and I want him to be proud of the man he has become, and maybe not be too disappointed that he no longer thinks that girls have cooties
, and that he gets along with his brother, and that he didn't become a paleontologist
after all, but something nearly as good anyway.