Favorites – childhood items

Next up in our series: Marina asks, “Is there an item (or are there items) that you have kept since childhood? What is it and why do you still have it?”

I’m afraid the answer is, basically, “No.” It’s not perfectly no – there are a couple of items from my childhood that I still have. But I’m not, really, a material guy. I don’t actually have a lot of things. And, my nostalgia does not tend to attach itself to objects.

Shirley Temple

I have a framed collection of photos of my mom, from her childhood. The glass in the frame broke some years ago, and I haven’t replaced it. I’m sure that reflects some conflict I feel, but I’m not sure I understand it. The frame itself – which has six or eight great, cute photos of my mom looking every bit like Shirley Temple (the cute child version – not the odious Republican she became). And it sits prominently placed in my dining room. It just is lacking the glass. (As I write this I think, “Maybe I’ll get that replaced soon!”)

There’s a stuffed animal I named “Ottie.” I got it when I went to Disney World, when I was nine or ten, with my grandmother. In adulthood, I’ve come to understand that Ottie isn’t, actually, an otter; he’s a seal. But whatever. His name is Ottie. And I’ve had him a long time. He wasn’t, actually, a particularly important member of my menagerie. I had a little lion that I loved much, much more. And a dog. And a cat.

Ottie was, honestly, a sort of auxiliary member of my stuffed animal crew. He was more of a totem of my grandmother’s love for me than anything else, and it was out of loyalty and love for her that Ottie survived at all.

Somehow, though, he survived a lot of years in my dad’s home, and, maybe five or six years ago, I stumbled upon him there, and brought him home (rescued him from my father’s neglect). So Ottie moved in with us, and now, he lies on the headboard of our bed. He’s sort of a totem, though. Like, I didn’t try hard to keep him; I wouldn’t miss him all that much if he were gone.

But he’s there, a little shibboleth of my childhood, discernible only to me.

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