A place for everything, heartbreak, too


Inspired by the suggestion of “heartbreak.”

When I was young, I was a collector of sorts. Some, like my immediate family, may have called me a pack rat. Yet, everything in my room had its place. That place was unrecognizable to most and I was totally OK with that. Although, it did not come without explanations, I felt like I was constantly having to explain this to my mother, but it was a process.

“Ask me where something is and I’ll tell you.” I’d often say to her. To which she would frustratingly sigh and tell me to pick things up and put them away. She didn’t get it, I would think. I mean, I just told you everything was in its place. These sort of interactions between my mother and I would continue and I would hesitantly move things off the floor or table tops and put them on the shelves where she believed they should reside.

Then off I’d go, taking to the sidewalks on bike with neighborhood friends. We’d ride around all day, exploring new building sites, making ramps and daring each other to ride down steep entrances into what would eventually become the foundations of apartment buildings or business parks; then, off to the gas station to load up on penny and nickel candies. I always loved the flavored Tootsie Rolls. The green and blue wrapped ones; representing green apple and blue raspberry were always first picks, while the yellow, banana flavor, was skipped over every time. If there was cherry, that’s all I’d get.

We’d ride down, through the wooded bike trails where the trees would cut out the sun, leaving the running water cool and the rocks green with moss. Throwing our bikes to the side of the trail and taking off on foot, jumping from rock to rock until we’d reach the water’s edge. Then daring each other to skip the path where the tips of the rocks protruded through the water like miniature icebergs. Foraging along as if we were giants hopping across a great body of water by way of such iceberg.

Our imaginations ran wild as we created many worlds, and our bikes were never just bikes. They were motorcycles, animals (generally horses) or fast cars; mine, usually a Trans Am, black with a gold eagle on the front. Second choice, also a Trans Am, but white this time with a royal blue eagle on the front, and blue and yellow stripes on the sides. This represented a Matchbox car I once owned.

Believe me, I know — and am still not sure why that was my cool car of choice — but I will also mention that this lasted well into my teenage years, until I somehow flipped to the complete opposite side of the spectrum where the more practical Land Cruiser became the obvious choice.

As the day would pass and adventures would grow far beyond anything we could ever imagine, we’d see the end closing in. Soon it would be dinnertime and everyone would file off to his or her appropriated homes.

As I made my way up my street, turning into the driveway without cutting my speed, instead leaning to the side and dragging my foot on the ground, I noticed my mother packing up the garage sale she had set up that morning. As I looked to the table still set up on the south side of the driveway, I noticed, in horror, some of my stuffed animals.

I screeched my brakes, dropped my bike and ran to the table shouting frantically to my mother: “What are these doing out here? These aren’t for sale.”

I ran to my room, looking to see if anything was out of place. My stuffed dog, where was it?

Shouting through the house and into the garage about this stuffed dog. My mother calmly explained to me that it must have sold during the garage sale. Then, adding that she never saw me playing with it or any of the stuff she had put on sale. I guess she figured I wouldn’t notice or miss it.

I went back into my room, cleared a space on my bed full of stuffed animals and sat there. Twelve years old and heartbroken over a small stuffed dog with oversized eyes, wearing a green t-shirt that said “hugs” or something like that on it.

Sara Palmer is a an improviser-writer-storyteller based in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Share your ideas for her next blog in the comments below.

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