25 October 2014

Reconstructing My Childhood

If you've been following my blog, you know that last summer I brought home boxes of stuff from my childhood home. Much of it belonged to my parents, but a good portion of it is my own stuff which had been stored at my parents' house all these years. School papers, toys, Halloween costumes, my stamp collection...the list goes on and on. As I've sorted through my own boxes, it's been a real trip down memory lane.

I've always been very attached to my childhood belongings. That's why I still have a lot of them. For as long as I can remember, I've been sentimental and reluctant to part with things, and now I understand why. Each item represents a link to my childhood and (now) to my parents -- obviously a time and place that will never be again.

The other thing you might know about me is that I crave order. This trait tends to shift into high gear when I'm faced with circumstances that are outside of my control, like those of the past few years. In those situations, my first inclination is to organize. Order makes me feel calmer and in control, like everything is as it should be.

Now I'm faced with boxes of jumbled artifacts from my childhood. I'm sure some people would see them as meaningless objects from long ago. Others would dump it all. But not me. I need to put it all together. I need order.

 I've been sifting through mixed up containers of dolls, tiny shoes, marbles, and game pieces. I've been on a quest to reunite dolls with their clothing, tiny shoes with their mates. 

And as I fit together pieces of this puzzle, it's almost as if I'm reconstructing my childhood. Without my parents here to share stories about my childhood, I feel compelled to uncover them myself.

I need to remember my story, and this is one step in that process.

 So I scoured the Internet looking for pictures of my old Upsy Downsy doll set. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I still had all the pieces but over the years, they had become separated. Pulling it all back together triggered vivid memories of how much I loved playing with it. Do you see the orange bridge at the top of the photo? I found it in the box of mementos from childhood pets. Finding it there reminded me that my two turtles, Sadie and Sydney, had used that bridge. Without the bridge, I never would have remembered that little detail about these beloved childhood pets.

What will I do with my Upsy Downsy set? At some point I'll sell it, but first I'll take some pictures and write down my memories. It's the first step in letting it go. In fact, I'm sure I've got the letter I wrote to Santa requesting an Upsy Downsy doll for Christmas one year. It's a tiny part of my story.

I reunited my Little Kiddles fireman with his hat and his coat, then to my great surprise I found his fire truck and his tiny white ladders. In his little corner of the world, everything is finally as it should be. My parents gave me this fireman because my dad served on the volunteer fire department for many years. This little guy (blue as he may be!) is another tiny part of my story.

I know it won't change reality but I believe that by putting some order to these mixed up boxes, I'll be able to reconstruct my childhood and tell my story. And I hope that somewhere in those boxes, I find some healing.


Kristina said...

Your really fortunate to have those things from your childhood. I don't envy you having to go through it all, but I understand the journey you're going through. Reliving the memories associated with your things has to be both fun and bittersweet.

Janet said...

Thanks, Kristina. It's definitely a mixed bag -- good but hard to process at the same time. Still I'm very glad I have all of these keepsakes!