At some point in my pre school-age years, I fell madly in love with elephants. I have no actual memory of this, but there is a rather snazzy picture of my mom and me sitting cozily on top of a fence, with a herd (gaggle? pack?) of elephants behind us. I look mystified and elated. Or perhaps the sun is right above us and I look like a two-year-old that should have a damn hat on her head. It’s hard too tell.
Regardless, the story goes that my first tri to the zoo ended in a lifelong elephant love affair. (No, not like that, you perv.)
By age 5, I had quite the collection. Plush, patchwork, denim, and silk – if an elephant could be fashioned from it and stuffed with bunting, I probably owned it. I loved my elephants. They spread across my childhood bed like a tiny pachyderm parade. They moved with us from one military base to another, each time lovingly boxed up for the journey. Each time, Mom would let me choose one to bring along in the car. I rotated through as many as possible, trying to be fair. (Don’t judge.)
Two days after I graduated from high school, I moved from Soesterberg, Holland to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Just as before, I packed up all my belongings into a series of boxes. The elephants all went into one big box, and this time – being all grown up and stuff, I didn’t keep one out for the ride. I took my time packing them, thinking about the different Christmas mornings, birthday parties, or special surprises when I received each one. It was different this time, packing away my childhood.
I sealed their box with extra tape and wrote “ELEPHANTS” in large block letters across the side of their new cardboard home.
A day later, I was on my flight to Florida.
I never saw the elephants again.