Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
When I was a young girl, I was, in a word, a pack-rat. I threw away nothing; I collected everything. Pine cones, twigs, rocks, Lego bits, river shrimp– you name it, I probably, at some point, had it in my pockets, or in my hair. My mother got so fed up with the ‘pack-rats’ in my hair that she began simply cutting them out. I learned to brush my hair after that. But I kept picking up random things (I still do).
My dad used to frequent one of the most amazing toy shops I have ever been to. It was one of those old, traditional shops, with the tin signs hanging outside, and toy train sets with tracks throughout the entire store. It was liking walking into your own imagination. Kites of dragons and fire birds hung from the ceiling. Dinosaur and horse figurines were lined up in pretty rows on the shelves. One year, my father went to that store, and came back with something I fell in love with instantly. It was ugly. A rag-doll rat made of fabric scrapings. It had long, rope-thin legs and buck-teeth and hollow, embroidered circles for eyes. But, if you lifted its dress up, there was a zipper down its back– and if you unzipped her, a huge roll of fabric spilled out, inverting her into a purse.
A pack rat.
He had actually bought one for me and my sister. I brought it with me everywhere. I find every bit of charm in her usually squashed, flat face. I learned to sew on that doll when her legs threatened to fall off. I put all of my treasures of the day in her purse, and when I got home and lined everything up on my shelves, I zipped her back up and went to sleep with her.
I’m a kindergarten teacher now. Last year, my parents were cleaning out their storage and were wondering if I might like to take any of the toys for the kids (free toys for my school? Sold!) Well, they shipped me several large boxes of Ty Beanie Babies, Boyds’ Bears, BRIO… and among all of the other toys, I found, nestled in the corner of the box and smiling at me with her little, crooked, buck-toothed smile, my pack rat.
I brought her to the school with me, and carefully showed her to all of my kindergarteners. They fell in love with her as easily as I did, and were quick to turn her into a purse and run around the classroom with her. However, aftr two days of rough play of a group of five-year-old’s, one of her fragile arms tore off. I realized it was time to retire her.
I fixed her arm, and now she sits on my desk, right next to my computer, smiling at me when I sometimes forget how great being a kid is.