My little cousins were visiting this weekend, so our basement looks like it did when we were younger: like little tornadoes have rifled through the boxes of toys and the colorful bins of dolls.
Now that I am home, in this in-between time, my mission is to organize and arrange all the pieces of life. Organizing the doll box seems to be a part of this mission.
I start with the little stable with the horses inside of it. I lovingly place each horse back in the stall that I still remember designating theirs. I put the hay bales away in their loft, and tuck the tack into their appointed slots.
For a moment, I am the ten-year-old again, who played with those horses. I can feel her living inside of me. I feel her face and eyes looking at these horses, and her heart beating inside of me.
In Google Maps, if you are in street view, you can click the clock in the corner, and see the house, apartment, or street corner as it looks today, in July 2016, and as it looked a year ago, two years ago, three, four, five years ago. You can go back and look at this one particular place, caught in time.
It was as though this stable and horses had pressed a clock inside my brain, and reset me to Renée at ten-years-old.
I picked up the colorful plastic village and small dolls that the cousins had strewn about. I put each doll back in her home, remembering where each one lived less by conscious thought and more by some distant muscle memory.
As I put away miniature cakes and tea cups, smoothed doll hair, and sorted dresses, I felt all the old settings of my brain re-emerge. All the toys reminded me less of particular memories of playing with them, and more of the person who played with them: what it felt like thinking with her brain, looking at the world through her eyes, the logic of her heart, the concerns of her daily life.
The child who played with those toys still lives inside of me, very much alive. Just not given much of an opportunity to emerge, perhaps.