The morning started out relatively cool, and we had nowhere to go, so I decided it was as good a time as any to get in the attic and go through the boxes I've been toting around for 20 or so years. It would be a good day to mark something off the list of Thirty-Nine.
There were a half dozen, stacked in a corner, the tape that held them together yellowed and peeling. "Kelly - kid stuff" hastily scrawled in black marker across the top. I'm sure that when I packed them, I assumed they would get to their destination and be neatly sorted and put away. I certainly didn't think they'd journey through three states, 4 apartments and 3 houses. I certainly didn't think most of the things wouldn't see the light of day until two decades later.
It was going to be a little like Christmas.
The first few boxes were easy - books and books and books. Crazy weird books, well-worn books, my beloved Nancy Drews. I sorted them quickly into piles for the children, piles for a yard sale, piles to keep in a box. This is a piece of cake, I thought.
Then I faced down the biggest box, 2 feet square and up to my waist, full of dolls. There were two things I loved more than anything as a child, books and dolls. I knew the dolls would be in questionable condition. My 20 year old self had taken no care or regard in packing, and the box was a jumbled mess. Mandy, Victoria, Holly Hobby, shoved on top of the Madame Alexander dolls that were my pride and joy at 8. The dolls from Malta, Indonesia...all the places my father had traveled, each one a gift to me when he returned home. A small, silken pillow my grandmother had made, sprayed with her perfume and given me shortly before her death. I had slept with it many nights, and it was the closest I could come to not missing her. Now it was all a mess, with broken arms and wrinkled clothes, the perfume on the pillow an ugly brown. An ink pen, carelessly thrown in the box during packing, had leaked and big blue blotches stained some of the dolls.
It was a sad, ruined box.
I laid out the dolls, looking to see which ones were salvageable, and which ones were better tossed out. At the end of the sorting, the pile of what was worthwhile was pitiably small. I looked at the broken dolls and realized it would be impossible to throw any of them out.
And so I packed them back in the box, exercising more care with them broken than I ever did with them whole. This box would just have to move with us, wherever we may go, for the rest of my life. I will leave it up to my children to sort through it when I'm gone, because I just don't have the heart to.
2 weeks ago