Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stiffs and Stuffeds

I'm not someone who deals well with change. You would have known this by a recent fixture in my dining room: a large glass tank containing a wooden hutch, a water bottle, and rodent bedding -- but no rodent. When our final gerbil, Carmella, died, I couldn't bring myself to take her cage down and left it there for some months, imagining every morning that she was still alive and well, just a little quiet, "napping" the day away inside her cozy hutch. Not wanting to bury her in our back yard for fear the dogs would dig her up, but also not wanting to simply toss her out with the trash, I had placed her curled body in a zip-lock plastic bag and put her "temporarily" in the freezer. There she still lies in cold, stiff "sleep," next to the Popsicles, the frozen peas, and Nibbles the guinea pig.

On the other hand, my 12-year-old daughter, who can be seen in as many as seven outfits per day, adores change, and sometime after Easter this year made her adoration official by turning imperceptibly from a kid to a teenager. Suddenly, without warning, there was no more picture-drawing, no more doll-playing, and no more bug-collecting, and her "old country store" in our living room closed its doors forever, traded for a literal locked bedroom door, behind which she now spends endless time on her laptop, making brief, zombie-like excursions into "the real world" only to eat.

As part of the changing process, my daughter decided to remove all of her ten-thousand stuffed animals from her room, a feat requiring the use of most of my thousand cardboard boxes acquired through eBay. I was delighted by her decision at first, as it meant that it would now be possible to enter her closet completely upright, but as I began packing all her former "friends" in the boxes, something didn't feel right. Not only did I know the "birth place" of each stuffed animal, I knew every single one of them by name, and suddenly there was Pipsqueak, Bun-Bun, and Sad Puppy all staring up at me, tears welling in their little glass eyes (I swear!), as I closed the flaps and sealed them in darkness for eternity....

When my daughter asked with irritation the next day why some of her stuffed animals were back in her room, I answered only, "Pipsqueak didn't understand."

The entombing of my daughter's stuffed animals, of course, is only one of a hundred transitions her young life has already undergone, but for some reason I took this one hard. So even though the gerbil cage has long been emptied and cleaned and relegated to the porch, I've kept an impassable tower of cardboard boxes looming in my living room for more than two months. I wonder just when I'll decide it's time to move those boxes into the garage. Probably when I can no longer stand the tiny, muted pleas of bunnies and bears coming from deep inside....

written Summer 2007

1 comment:

Ray said...

Congratulations on your new blog!