Monday, August 9, 2010

To ten million fireflies I'm weird because I hate goodbyes...

I haven't posted a legit entry on here for over a month. Oh dear, oh dear. I've been working +/- full time and at night I'm either busy with friends, invested in something from Netflix (most dangerous invention ever) or passed out in my bed. So, ironically, the thing that's got me thinking the most (working with kids) is keeping me from getting those thoughts down on virtual paper. Not necessarily a bad thing; the kids are one of the few things keeping me sane this summer. Actually, leaving them is going to make the summer ending really hard. I mean, maybe I'll be back next summer and maybe I'll see some/most of them, but there are no guarantees on any of that. And really I just wanna stick around and watch them grow up and see them every day forever and ever. But that seems on the edge of living vicariously through a bunch of kids that I barely know, and really I should be finding my own life, so yeah

     Anyhow. Childhood. Going away. Way too quickly. It didn't really hit me until I was sitting in a movie theater watching Toy Story 3. Funny, I never cry at movies, even if they're really, truly heartbreaking.  But I shed a few tears and would've been flat out bawling if the guy behind me had silenced his phone, or maybe even if he'd just selected a ringtone that wasn't "Who Let the Dogs Out" (By the way...Baha Men==>Bahaman? Mind was recently blown). I was relieved that I had such an obnoxious person behind me that made me roflmao during a very emotional part of the movie; I would've been totally embarrassed  if I'd been weeping at an animated picture about a bunch of toys. I remember not even liking Toy Story when it first came out (I think more than anything them getting chased by that dog scared me...I guess liked the series by the time I was around 11 and saw the second one. I thought Jessie was pretty cool). But I really wasn't that invested in any of the characters before this, and, again, as emotionally driven as I usually am, I never cry at movies. So why was I crying?

     I mean, I'd been spending all day with kids for a few weeks at that point and they'd been saying how sad it was.So maybe I was just expecting to be sad. But I think more than anything I could relate to Andy's character a lot. When I was a kid he was a kid in the first two movies, so I guess I've sort of grown up with him. And maybe I didn't cry at Water because I've never been widowed or sent to a widow's ashram as a result. But I have gone away to college and left lots of stuff behind. And I've been made to give away my toys, and worse, I've lost one that I really cared about.

I got Push Push when I was...I want to say 4...from my cousin as a Christmas gift. I immediately forgot about all the barbie dolls and accompanying accessories I had received, embraced the baby harp seal, and exclaimed "I love it!". I didn't really know what seals were, mind you, but this was the cutest, most cuddly thing I'd seen in my whole 4 years of existence. I started to play with her, making that sounds that I'd imagined a seal would say, which turned out to be something like, "puuuush! puuuush!", hence the gorgeous name. And from that day on we were inseparable. Push Push went to pre-school with me every day, and with me to my babysitter's. Obviously she was soon not white and fluffy, but I learned that adolescent harp seals are a more mottled gray, so I just played it off as my little girl growing up. I freaked out if I left her at my grandmother's or at a friend's house. My best friend had a similar seal named Sealy, and I was really excited for Push Push to have a friend.

 And I didn’t stop with just one friend for her. The next year we were going to send my cousin’s son a stuffed seal as a present in gratitude for my seal. But on the car ride home from Toys R Us I became attached to it, and my mom eventually gave in and I ended up with a second seal, Softy (Which would come in handy like 8 years later…keep that in mind). And then, over the years, I acquired upwards of 20 seal toys, figurines, books (some on tape), pictures, and whatnot. When I had to make a ceramic animal in middle school art class—a harbor seal. Even when I had to map a species for 12th grade ecology—the Galapagos Fur Seal, which is threatened due to global warming (their fur means they need relatively cold water—relatively since they live on the equator and all) (I’m refraining from a rant about the seal fur trade, but I needed to throw a “save the seals!” in there somewhere). In fact, Woofy Seal, my former open-relationship companion on Facebook, who is 3 ft long, accompanied me on an ecology field trip to the Jersey shore (No, we didn’t pump our fists and party with Snooki; rather we counted blades of dune grass), in our crammed minivan, after my teacher explicitly said not to make the car look like a slumber party. Teacher may not have appreciated it, but I’m sure Woofy loved learning about aquatic ecosystems.
But, yeah, those grungy little plush animals with oversized eyes and blood-stained, ripped blankies and cowboys that say “You’re my favorite deputy!” can mean a lot. Even the less significant toys meant a lot to me—I remember the little cliques I had my Polly Pockets form (since 10 year old girls think in terms of cliques and all), and the personalities I gave the paper dolls I cut out of American Girl magazine (weird since they were real people with real personalities living out there somewhere). I have no clue what movie the plastic figure of the little girl in a canoe I got in a Burger King meal is from, but I remember how she always played the lost little orphan that another toy would take in. Kids put a lot of thought into these things, and it sucks that something they paid so much attention to often gets stuffed in a bag and kicked to the curb.
I mean, sometimes you have to get rid of things and it’s nice to give things you don’t use often to other people, but more thought/care should really go into something like that when toys can mean so much; sure, they’re cute and cuddly or shiny and fast, but I like to view them as mementos of a time when everything was new and exciting, when being asked what you’re going to be when you grow up is a fun question. A more innocent time, when death was something that happened to animated Disney parents and the ants that were crawling onto your sandwich and not to people you knew and when someone having a crush on you just meant they wanted to hold your hand at lunch (hell, a time when sex was completely nonexistent in your mind, and if it did exist it was just a word you giggled at because you knew it was naughty, even if you had no idea what it meant). To a simpler time, when a good day meant you got ice cream after dinner and your favorite episode of Rugrats was on and when school was about what you could learn in the here and now, and not what you (c/w/sh)ould do in the future. 

When you're always around people who have lost sight of that time, you're likely to forget it, too and get caught up in the rat race (I was gonna abandon that cliche but I just quoted Owl City on my Tumblr...actually "Fireflies" is what inspired me to sit down and write this I'm a pretty cliched person. I wanna hate the song but I love it) I just wish that when approaching the issue of "growing up", people would make more of a distinction between moving on to a new stage of your life and completely abandoning the things and ideas you valued for upwards of a decade of your life. Being with kids and the stuffed animals that they insist have their own pillow and blanket at naptime and Legos that they fight over and silly bandz that they fling at their siblings has reminded me of the things I used to love and probably still would if it were okay for a 20 year old to enthuse over American Girl dolls and aspire to act in a production of "Annie" (I guess I could be Miss Hannigan, but...) and watch 9 episodes of The Land Before Time in a row (oh wait, I just did that one yesterday...I sure love having friends who aren't too "cool" for Little Foot and Ducky). Anyways, I'm overjoyed that in a few weeks most of my interactions will once again be with people my own age, but this jaunt down memory lane has definitely restored some of my faith in this world/in people. Sure, finding genuinely good people is always possible, but I think it's way easier to find them in a group of children.
I got misty eyes as they said farewell
But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
Because I saved a few and I keep them in a jar

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because everything is never as it seems

Sorry for the saccharine attack. If this entry gave you a toothache, beware of the upcoming sequel to this, about best friends.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I am a little (okay, a good decade) older than you, but I have felt and still feel the same way.

    And I think for Americans, autumn is the season of nostalgia, something about the fact that throughout childhood and even into early adulthood if you attend college, makes summer romantic, fleeting and strange.

    Then autumn comes and wakes you up form your UV Rayed dreams and you not only see the leaves dying, but turning beautiful colors before you go.

    This is much more depressing than I intended and I hope it didn't make you feel worse. lol :-)