I got a new bike. Twenty-five bucks, a real steal. Target was selling them for $100 last weekend so I got lucky. Dad knew I wanted a bike and heard his friend was going to sell one at the garage sale, so Dad had his friend set it aside for me. Only rode once or twice, the friend said. Dark forest hunter green with gold letters. HUFFY. Dad’s always been good with that kind of thing. I think it’s his love language.
Before I got the green bike, I figured I’d give my purple bike from eighth grade a try, just in case. I had some good memories on that bike, but that’s not why I wanted to try it out. I just didn’t want to spend money where it wasn’t needed.
We kept the bike in a garage. I went over there the other day, my feet stepping over the grass and weeds. I saw some dandelion leaves and remembered Copper, the bunny I won at a carnival when I was eight. OK, I didn’t win him. My dad bought him after several failed attempts to get the ping pong ball in the fish bowl. It really probably is my dad’s love language. Gift-giving. Or Acts of Service. Mine is Words of Affirmation. Anyway, Copper loved them. The dandelion leaves. He would nibble and nibble on those things. And I would giggle, feeding him more, like the coins in the slot machines my grandma played at Tropical Island Casino.
When I walked into the garage, I was overwhelmed. Not just with the amounts of stuff in the garage. Overwhelmed with the amount of memories housed there. Like a tangible childhood—my childhood—sitting on this block of cement, within the four walls. Dark and damp and alone and forgotten. Just waiting. A true Land of Misfit Toys, with memories dangling off strings and clinging for dear life, hoping the mind that remembers comes to claim them.
I did. I do. I claim them.
And it was overwhelming, those polar opposite of emotions I felt after walking into the garage. Like WHOOSH! All of these memories I had no recollection of, just came wading into my head, as if the toys and memories and love were so happy to find a vessel to connect to that understood. Like I was its owner.
I am. Their owner. Of the memories and the love and the meaning attached to these objects.
A purple and pink Huffy bike with a broken horn may not mean much to most people, but it does to me. An Arctic Cat Kitty Kat snowmobile with a faded leopard seat may be old and rusty and considered junk to some, but it’s not to me. My brother and I sat on that snowmobile when I was seven and he was three and we still loved each other and showed it. He’s a man with a beard and work boots and a love for swear words and a preference for Coors Light now. He still loves snowmobiles, though. And I still love him. And he still loves me, even if he doesn’t say it like he used to when he was three.
A Ford Explorer who I once named Dora and drove around to basketball games and on dirt roads and had a hanging lei air freshner that smelled part floral, part coconut like the perfume I wore back then.
made me feel happy and sad at the same time, in the garage. Happy to see these objects that I loved so dearly for so long, yet sad to see them sitting there, alone. Forgotten about. And sometimes, I wish I could go back and do it all again. Because now instead of toys comes bills and duties and responsibilities and your 20s is like your “Oh, Shit” decade because you need to get everything straightened out but it’s all so crooked.
It just seems so crooked.
And you wonder how that happened, how did we get here, it all changed so fast but time flew by and it seemed slow until it was fast. Like an ice cream cone melting, or going to sleep.
And here I stand. In the middle of it all. Wondering if the songs are right, and you can’t go home again, and the past always seems better than the present.
All I know is I can be happy, sad, and often somewhere in between. And that is a pretty constant state of emotion for me. But that’s OK. Because then I get the best of both worlds, I suppose. And I’d rather feel something than nothing at all.
So I’ll take it. I’ll take the old with the new, the good with the bad, and make new memories while taking walk through memory lane with the Misfit Toys once in awhile. Because that is how we reach our golden years:
By being misfits first.