Listening to: Dave Matthews Band

In my room there is a box. A box of memories. A box that serves as a portal to my childhood. A box that I wish weren't just a box, but reality.

This box contains very few things. Its greatest possessions are a picture of my sister and I before our parents' divorce; a picture of my sister, my dad, and I; the letter my mom wrote me when I "became a woman"; and Snuggles, the best darn teddy bear a girl could have.

Snuggles was with me through thick and thin when I was little. He was given to me (if memory serves me correctly, and it probably doesn't) by my great-grandmother's sister. Throughout preschool my babysitter Gene re-sewed under Snuggles' right arm countless times due to my incessant need to throw him around in the air. His tag is worn thin from the numerous times I held him by it. Snuggles was a well-loved bear.

Because children are fickle, and around age seven I decided Snuggles' glass eyes freaked me out, Snuggles was banished to the closet. Sarah, a doll my mom had made for me when I was a baby, became my new favorite. And she, too, went through much with me. Sarah and I lasted together, honestly, until last year when she was removed from my bed while my sheets were being clean, and I didn't feel like putting her back in her rightful place of honor.

Yes, I know that sleeping with your dolly until age 15 may seem childish to you (or maybe not, to others with similar childhood friends still hanging around), but I think this can be explained by my favorite movie. Peter Pan (2003). I know the overall message is that all children have to grow up someday, but I to this day want to be like Peter Pan. I don't want to be sent to an office, I want to dance barefoot, I want to paint my cheeks in mud, I want to accessorize with vines and leaves. But above all else, I want to be a child, unburdened by the knowledge of the world around me. I want to see with the innocent eyes of one who has never stepped into a middle school, for it is then that children take their first step into the "real world."

Why couldn't you have liked my stories, Peter? Why couldn't you have whisked me away to Neverland?

But I know why you never chose me, Peter. Not because you are not real, or because I never told stories anyway, but because all children must grow up. Wendy learned this lesson, and it's about time I accept it as well.

But back to this box. I opened it about a half an hour ago whilst cleaning my room. And at first I scanned its contents with a smile on my face, looking at the pictures and glancing over some of the other little random items located there. But then I read the aforementioned letter, and I started to cry a little, as I always do and as expected to. And then I lifted out Snuggles, and held him to my chest as the tears started flowing more abundantly. I kissed his nose and set him back down, rising to get Sarah, from where she had sat on my cluttered desk, like everything else I no longer have time to deal with.

My intention was to put Sarah down into the box with Snuggles, thinking that it was time for her official retirement. I couldn't just keep lying her wherever it was most convenient for me at the moment. However, when it came for me to secure the latch on the lid of the box, a thought arose from the part of my mind that still believes I am six years old. Will they be okay in there? Are they comfy? And despite myself, I immediately opened the box to resituate them, forgetting for a moment, a blessed split second of a moment, that they only toys.

No, six-year-old me, they won't be comfy in there. Because I have followed down the path that everyone eventually must lead: I have betrayed them. I have cast them out like clothes that no longer fit. Like those clothes, they have been outgrown, and I have no further need for them.

Except that I want to need them. I want to need to hug the living daylights out of Snuggles and Sarah whenever nightly tormenters appear. I want them to be absolutely essential. I want to love them.

I am now sitting on my floor, staring at the open box. Snuggles and Sarah are lying on either side of me.

Snuggles and Sarah look sad. Why are they sad?

They're sad because they don't want to go away. They want to stay and play.

Oh. I don't like them being sad. Play with them.

I don't think I can do that anymore.

You're being silly. Playing is easy!

Maybe, but growing up sure isn't.

Then don't grow up!

I don't think I can do that, either.

Pick up your toys and play with them forever and ever. Let grown-ups be boring. It's the kid's job to be fun!

I'll miss you, kid. We had some great times. But I think it's time to close the box now.

Nu-uh! I don't wanna go!

Bye-bye, kiddo.

The latch is secured. And I am left alone, with only a few stray tears and scattered memories to keep me company.