Last night, Nick and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D…. and there were no shortage of tears that resulted. I am a fan of the Toy Story series in general, and all of the movies have had touching and tearful moments (well, at least for me — I’m a crier), but this was some serious, I’m-sobbing-and-I-hope-no-one-can-see-me-behind-these-giant-3D-glasses kind of crying. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know what I mean. (Or you just think I’m crazy and hormonal. Also true.) I’m not going to sell him out, but let’s just say that someone sitting to my left may have also had tears running down his face.
What can I say? We’re a bunch of saps.
I won’t ruin the ending of the movie for anyone who has not yet seen it, but the premise of the film is that Andy, the toys’ owner, is all grown up and going off to college; Andy no longer has the same need for Woody and Buzz (and the rest of his beloved toys) as he prepares to move on to his exciting new life. It’s true that we all grow up and lose some of the emotional attachment we once had with our toys, but I’m pretty sure that we all had our own Woody and Buzz at some point; those toys that represent our childhood, our innocence, our happiness.
For me, those toys were my CPKs — my Cabbage Patch Kids. My two best friends — Jill and Denise — and I were totally in love with our CPKs. We went over to each other’s houses and had CPK school, CPK parties, CPK dance recitals… CPK everything. We had piles upon piles of clothes and accessories for our kids. We were enamored with them and they truly were like our own children.
My first Cabbage Patch Kid was Carol — she had orange yarn for hair and she was one of the original dolls when the CPK fad first hit in the early 80s. I adored Carol, and she came with me wherever I went… including one fateful trip to the store with my mom where Carol was accidentally left behind. I was heartbroken when we couldn’t find her, but never fear — Carol 2.0 soon became mine and all was right with my world again.
please take note of my stylish Strawberry Shortcake shoes
and the delightful shag carpeting
The day before our trip, Jill, Denise and I had forced our parents to sit through a CPK dance recital in Jill’s basement; my kids and their plethora of costumes were still in the garbage bag that I had transported them to Jill’s house in.
Yes… a garbage bag. Do you see where this is going?
I remember leaving the bag at the bottom of our stairs, by the front door, in the living room of our house on Claremont Road. It was completely my fault; I should have put the bag in my room when I got back from Jill’s house that day, or taken the dolls out of the bag entirely and put them away. But I didn’t. To this day, we don’t know who was responsible for disposing of the garbage bag, but it was just a very unfortunate accident. My kids were inadvertently put on the curb amidst the garbage and taken away. All I had left was Jillian, the doll I had taken to New Orleans with me.
We didn’t realize what had happened until a day or so after we returned from our trip when I invited Jill over to play with our CPKs. She came from her house across the street with her own bag full of kids, while my mom and I looked everywhere for mine. We simply could not find them. And then, it hit us. When we finally realized what must have happened, I think my mom was as devastated as I was. I remember the look on Jill’s face… she felt the loss, too. I cried and cried and cried.
It took a while to be able to joke about it, but my mom and I now refer to that fateful event as “the cruise” — as in, the cruise that my CPKs took… to the Bermuda Triangle.
Looking back, I was probably growing too old to still be regularly playing with dolls, and I didn’t really want to replace all of my lost Cabbage Patch Kids; getting a Carol 3.0 just sounded like a silly idea. Perhaps losing them at that point in my life was a little sign that it was time to grow up.
I did eventually get a few more CPKs, but they could never have truly replaced my lost dolls; many of them became more like collectibles to me as I got older. They sat as decoration on the built-in shelves in my bedroom, and helped me to remember the old times. Denise gave me an artist Cabbage Patch Kid as a gift when we graduated from high school. It was a nice little reminder of who we once were all those years ago, and where we were going (I was headed to college to major in art). The Cabbage Patch Kids I gradually collected after “the cruise” are still tucked away in a bin in my mom’s basement, including that artist doll who is still in her original box; maybe my future kids will enjoy playing with them someday.
It may sound crazy, but I still get a little choked up when I think about losing my kids. Recounting this story actually makes my heart hurt. Cabbage Patch Kids were such a huge part of my childhood, and although it may sound silly because they were only toys and not real people, that was really my first experience with heartbreaking loss. It was accidental and unexpected, and there was nothing anyone could do to get them back. Twenty years later, I can still clearly recall the sadness I felt.
I remember telling the story of “the cruise” to my friend Amy 10 or so years ago, and she had tears in her eyes as I relayed what happened. No matter who we are or where we came from, we can all relate to having that innocent, emotional connection with and undying love for a toy (or toys) as a child; fortunately, the memory of utter happiness and adoration for that thing is not something that can be taken away from you, even when the object is no longer part of your world.
My childhood joy was my Cabbage Patch Kids… what was yours?