Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It is just a molded piece of plastic with a motor and four wheels, and yet this pink Power Wheel with Barbie stickers emblazoned on its bumper has me in its grips.

After living in a hotel for an entire year I came home to a house full of stuff. Stuff we clearly didn’t need, after all we’d gone 12 months without it. The purging has been marvelous, for the most part, until you get to something like the damn Power Wheel.

My coworker’s son is a Boy Scout. The troop is having a garage sale to raise money for the wonderful cause that is scouting, and thus some of my stuff made its way to her trunk today.

But, as I handed over the Power Wheel, all pink and dusty, I felt a lump jump to my throat that gave me sympathy for the hoarders. For a moment, ever so brief (or perhaps lingering now if truth be told), I felt as though I was handing over more than a piece of plastic with motorized wheels.

It was the last birthday - the last birthday party for my girlies that my Grandma ever attended. She knew Carolyn would love a pink Power Wheel and she was right. Carolyn was turning three. As soon as she saw it she hopped on the Power Wheel and maneuvered all around the crowded room at the pizza parlor. Everyone laughed and life was good.

Life is still good, I remind myself. But Grandma is not here. And neither is three-year-old Carolyn. And when I handed over the Power Wheel I felt like I had to say goodbye to that moment. To Grandma. To little Care Bear. And to a thousand days since then when I’ve seen the pink plastic gathering dust yet reminding me that there was a time when it powered a memory around a pizza parlor one November day.

I love and crave simplicity. The life of 450 square feet in far away Baltimore is my siren call. Maybe there are all sorts of reasons for this craving, good reasons and wonky ones. Maybe it’s a way of grieving time’s passage, or respecting it. Today a lump in my throat makes me want to ask if I can have it back. Have the pink plastic and with it a piece of Grandma and a three-year-old girl who has grown to seven. But that’s not where they are, and I’ll be sure to tell the lump in my throat that.


Missy said...

i love this post. having lived abroad for so long now, i look at everything i buy as something i will have to sell/throw out in 1-2 years. while i love the simplicity of it there is still a part of me that wants to cling to little momentos- a pair of yellow footie pajamas, a board book, a pair of tiny shoes - as proof that this special time happened and was real. but there is somehing freeing in letting go of things that are so heavy with memory. bittersweet!

Robin woods said...

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