The Harsh Truth of the Past

I am a sentimental, nostalgic person. I have every Hallmark card my husband gave me over the past 24 years, all of the homemade cards and gifts my children made for me in nursery and elementary school, their first written words, pictures, early spelling tests and photos. These days, memories are saved on computers and phones, but for much of my life, photos were printed and held in boxes or albums. And I have plenty of each. A snapshot from every phase of my married life and of my children’s lives.

Each of my sons has a full bin of infant and child memorabilia awaiting them for when they embark on a life outside of our home. Through the years, I’ve saved items I thought they might love to have one day: things I thought important to them at the time, including but not limited to: baby books (each have two, completely filled), plush toys and teddy bears, favorite t-shirts, bibs, pictures and more. They’re going to want this stuff. I just know it.

Wonderful, right?

Wait for it.

My mother likes to tell a story of how I loved a doll so much, I carried the head around even after it separated from the body. That’s right. I carried a doll’s head under my arm. Under the other arm, I carried my bottle. In my mouth, a pacifier.

She tells it with a wistful smile, basking in the memory of my cuteness. I don’t remember this doll at all, but I can recite the story back word for word, it’s so ingrained in me. It’s a piece of my past.

Recently Mom found a box of my childhood memorabilia in her attic and brought it over. Excited, I foraged through it but was quickly disenchanted when I uncovered what waited for me. Inside I found all sorts of pieces I didn’t recognize including these corrective shoes for my severe pigeon-toed problem which, thanks to selective memory, my brain blocked out.

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I wore this barbaric apparatus

I pulled out old report cards (note to self: hide from boys), school pictures illustrating questionable fashion sense and bad hair. (A perm, Kim, really?), and yes, the infamous, beloved, body-less doll.

This is no longer a sweet story but a creepy glimpse into my neurosis. I took the dismembered head and body out of the box and my children, 17 & 15, recoiled. I think my husband crossed himself but I can’t be sure. I was so totally focused on this horrific display into my past.

 Issues? Who me?

Staring at this disturbing time capsule, I came to the conclusion that some things are better left to the merciful mind, where time and self-preservation nestle reality within soft, rose-colored memories.

I placed the doll back into the box, along with the metal-barred shoes, the lackluster grades, the photo of me wearing a quilted shirt and frizzy hair, and replaced the cover (tightly). This box has a new home in my basement, in a dark corner, under thick cobwebs and hardened paint cans.

Maybe I’ll re-visit the boys’ bins.

Years from now, I’m sure I’ll look back on this new discovery with fondness.