Playing with Dolls

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Today I awoke relatively early to the sound of my cell phone. Without the motivation to answer it, I drifted back to sleep. Upon awakening I checked the message on my phone to hear a fellow work employee asking me if I could cover his shift. I had slept through the start of the shift at that point, so I refrained from calling him back.
My task this morning, or afternoon, as I had slept in until 11 and there was little left of the morning, was to sort out my room. I was going to college in two months and the contents in my overly large room had yet to rearrange themselves into a reasonable quantity that I can take to college without requiring additional dorm rooms or forcing my roommate out on the street. As my parents were planning on claiming my bedroom as soon as I had departed, I was not eager to return home with the contents of my room furnishing the nearest Goodwill and thus had to sort out what I wanted to keep.
Behind the closets in my bedroom are two small storage cupboards that reflect the slant of the roof. Although the few cobwebs in both cupboards seem to indicate that they have been often used as holiday homes for various spiders, I have yet to see any type of living creature within them. The only contents, at least to my eyes, are the various objects I have stored there over the years, either as a result as the diminishing space available in my bedroom, or my refusal to get rid of something that has the slightest possibility of being needed/useful in the future. As a result, my entire beanie baby collection, that I spent many a year adding to, sits gathering dust next to the dolls that once were my greatest toys.
Opening the first closet I was prepared for an onslaught of spiders that might have taken nest there since my previous spring cleaning, but was relieved to find the small cupboard spider-free. I searched through the cupboard, immediately throwing out the remains of an old Spanish project and found a gold box covered in sparkling stars. Opening it I discovered my “Polly Pocket” collection from my younger years. Now, I have seen the “Polly Pockets” that today’s youth are forced to play with, and it plagues me to see children deprived of something that was once such a joy to me. “Polly Pockets:, in my age, with the total of my age accumulating to the ancient year of eighteen, never had removable clothes, or bendable appendages. A true “Polly Pocket” is less than an inch tall with painted clothes, round feet, and posed the threat of clogging any drain they had the misfortune of falling into, to which my dad has had many an experience. The greatest part of “Polly Pockets” were their, devoid of a proper word for it, “homes” . Each “home” was more of an individual aspect of the world. In my collection, I had a rodeo, a park, a vet’s office and various other environments, each marked with engraved circles were any “Polly Pockets” could fit and stand by his/herself. I spent many a time acting out the lives of my “Polly Pockets” through the tiny worlds in which they lived. It is remarkable how such a concept evolved into what is it today.
Continuing on my quest, which felt more and more like a journey into my past, I came upon the various dolls I had played with as a child. There were the two dolls that I used to refer to as “twins”, even though they bared little resemblance with one another. One had dark hair, the other blonde, but they were both dressed in white and red dresses with their hair pulled back in pony tails. In the other cupboard I found another doll, this one dressed in a pretty green and blue dress, with the remains of a haircut I had tried to give her leaving her slightly bald in the forehead.
Next to the doll, wrapped in a white blanket with the prints of ducks and cows, lay the doll that had been my favorite when I was younger. Her name was Lily, one of the only dolls that I had named as a child. She was dressed in yellow pajamas and her eyes were closed. She still looked like a sleeping baby, but bore the marks of age. The plastic was sticky around her face and feet, and her eyelashes were crusty and dry. It was as if the effects of age had finally caught up with an object that was supposed to stay young for a lifetime.
Looking at Lily, in her small baby carriage, I was struck by the various events in my life that she had been present at. Her mark on my innocent childhood contrasted greatly to the bedroom outside the cupboard, which bore the marks of my journey into adulthood. Ever since I had graduated, I felt as if I was trying to tie together the life I had as a child and the life I would have as an adult, and nothing symbolized my attempt more than Lily lying peacefully in my bedroom cupboard. I had grown to and passed the point at which Lily had been an important part of my life. She was now only a remnant of childhood long gone.
Standing there it suddenly dawned on me the change that college would present. It was the mark of my journey into adulthood. Lily, and the other remains of my childhood, would be left behind, along with my family and my friends, as I would try to make my own place in the world without them. I knew the things I needed for college, but the things I truly need and rely on, such as my family and friends, I can not bring. It is a change everyone goes through, but a big step nonetheless.
I began my day with the goal of an organized room, but the physical act of deciding what stayed and what went, became a metaphor for my future life in college. What will happen to the friends I have now? What will become of my family when I leave? Will there always be a place for me or will I have to make my own place in the world? I truly do not know for sure. I do not want to leave the past behind with the goal of replacing it.
Lily is in that cupboard still and her name and being will be passed to any daughter I have in the future. I do not know what the future holds, but I hope that it is as great, or even better, than the life I am leaving behind.





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penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm
I love this story. OMG, it's great!!!!! You use such great language and descriptions. And I love that the simple topic of finding old dolls turned into teaching a great life lesson.
 
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