Even though it was once home to me, my mom's house is just that these days: her house. It's changed over the years as we grew up and grew out of it. It's been re-carpeted a time or two, and the kitchen and bathroom have been redecorated.
Slowly our toys were put away (some of which I wish so badly I'd kept now), our out-grown clothes were boxed up and put in garage sales. Our bedrooms turned from childish play rooms to smelly teen rooms with constant science experiments growing in forgotten wrappers and glasses.
Eventually all the things we held dear were either taken along on our journies, or boxed and stored away. All that remains are boxes of "stuff," old clothes, and some of our furniture. There's nothing left of our childhood, because we grew out of it, gradually changing as we went.
That, however, is not the case at my grandma's house. My granny has the same velveteen flowered couch she bought brand-new when she moved into the house she now occupies. Her living room furniture has never changed. Her bedroom has the same beautiful lavender carpet and dark wood furniture. Little things have changed here and there, but for the most part, her house is always the same.
So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by the events I'm about to describe, but I was shocked.
Chloe and I were visiting recently, and Chloe was wanting some toys to play with. My grandma thought for a minute, then asked me where my Barbies were.
"Oh Lordy I don't know," I said. "If they're still here I guess they'd be upstairs, but it's probably been twenty years since I played with them," I told her. I knew how things worked. As we grew up, the adults moved out our toys and took back their space.
"Oh, no I wouldn't get rid of the Barbie dolls," my Mimi said. "Where did you used to play with them?"
"Well, I had them in the bottom drawer of your wardrobe," I told her. She suggested we go look, and as I opened the bottom drawer, there they were.
Memories flooded the room, nearly drowning me. It was as if in that tiny little corner of the universe, time had stood still. The Barbies were untouched. Suddenly, seeing them that way, I felt like a child again. Like I had played with them JUST yesterday. They were just as I had left them.
It made me sad, in a way, to know I grew out of them without meaning to. I'm sure I put them away neatly when I was finished playing that last time, probably in the middle of some big story, and probably in a specific order so I could remember where to pick it up next time. I'd say my mom came to get me, and I shut the drawer with every intention of coming back to it.
But I never did.
I didn't KNOW that would be the last time I played with those dolls. I didn't intend to grow up. I didn't see it coming. I sure had no idea the next time I opened that drawer I would be thirty years old and looking for a toy for my four year-old daughter.
Time kind of stood still, but I didn't. I kept going. If I'd known that would be my last time with my Barbies maybe I'd have dressed them in their best dresses, fixed their hair, and tucked them neatly away somewhere safe. Maybe I'd have wrapped them up to preserve them.
Maybe I'm kinda glad I didn't know...because sometimes life is easier when you move on without meaning to.