Last year I was going through some boxes of old toys that I’d held on to since the ’80s, with the intention of selling them. They’d been taking up a lot of space for many years, and I wanted them gone. I needed the money, first of all, and in addition to that, I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of happier days that are gone forever. Some of them were broken and un-sellable except as spare parts for collectors. I especially didn’t want to look at those, because I felt old and broken alongside them.
Castle Grayskull was probably the thing that I had the most difficult time parting with.
I used to set up elaborate outdoor “sets,” building camps and bases for my G.I. Joe, Star Wars and He-man figures. I’d have these long story arcs for them in my head, which I’d act out with the toys. I used to get annoyed by the way other kids played with their action figures; mindlessly bashing them together and making “pew pew” noises. I thought that was stupid, and that they were stupid and lacked imagination. I suppose that kind of disdain was pretty snobby of me, but I didn’t tell people about it. I kept it to myself. I kept a lot of things to myself, and I still do.
I don’t need those toys anymore, though and I haven’t for years. I can easily look up pics of them and be reminded of all the good times, and get my nostalgia fix that way, rather than cluttering up my house. Writing is my “toy” now. I can create worlds. I can decide who lives and who dies. I can go anywhere I want. There are no limits and it costs no money to write a story.
Still, parting with them, though necessary and cathartic for me, made me sad and I took Castle Grayskull outside for a photo shoot before delivering it to its new owner.
I don’t need all that stuff. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I hold onto the childlike sense of adventure and creativity that those toys used to spark within me. I want to remember them as they were, not as faded, dusty relics that make me feel like a faded, dusty relic. I want to remember the magic. And I do. That’s what my story “Childish Things” is about. Read it here.