When I was a little girl, I had a dolly I took everywhere with me. Her name was Annie and I held her by her hair.
Over time, her hair transformed into dreadlocks that pointed upwards, away from her permanently surprised eyebrows. I’m sure this was a topic of concern for the adults in my life, who worried that I was holding my beloved doll in a way would ultimately spoil her good looks, which were perhaps what they assumed attracted me to her. My three-year old self may have thought, “They just don’t get it.”
My parents had divorced, and I lived with my dad for a long stretch of months. Due to the absence of FaceTime, he sent my mom hand-written letters which I dictated to him on a regular basis. I have one of these letters, in which my dad’s careful printing on a piece of notebook paper reports to my mom, in my words, “Annie still has her hair up in the air.” It is signed with some marker scribbles, my own penmanship of the time, vaguely resembling the letters of my name.
My dad and stepmom sweetly saved my favorite doll for me, and I was quite happy to see her again when she showed up again. I was already in my thirties. I was working in the toy business at the time, and I realized for the first time that Annie was a Fisher Price doll, which gave me the idea to look her up on eBay, as vintage Fisher Price is “A Thing”. And there she was, “Ann Lapsitter Doll”, from the seventies. A like-new version could be yours for $55 or highest bid. It was startling to see what Annie looked like new. I did not have a sense of familiarity with this flat-haired, clothed Annie. Mine was dirty and naked with threads emerging from every seam.
Here’s what I asked myself about my tattered object of affection: What am I saving her for?
So that I can see her again when I grow up and feel sweet memories of being a little girl? Check.
So that I can show her to my own daughter? Check.
So that I can pass her along to another generation? Um, have you seen her?
Here’s the reality, friends: preserving every memento from the past is not sustainable. I wonder about the memory boxes I keep for my own kids. A couple of times each year, we add something — a special personalized tshirt, a certificate from a teacher. When I recently showed my eight-year old his favorite lovey, to which he was deeply attached until age four, he shrugged, uninterested.
So while I was doing a major purge of my kid’s toys, I decided to let Annie go. Scarlett has no interest in including her in playdates with other, newer dolls. Her head, barely attached to her body, hangs at an angle. I placed her in the garbage.
The truth is my childhood is over, and that’s okay. Annie served her purpose — as a security blanket and as a memento — but there are other special treasures in my life, and there will be more to come.
And I will not be a hoarder!
The sparkling truth is that I’m not done making memories just because I’ve grown up.