It’s Just a Turtle…

Posted on | July 13, 2011 | 9 Comments

It’s so silly.

It was just a little red turtle, nothing fancy.  I think it cost less than $2 when we bought it.  We named him “Todd” because we bought him in Todd, North Carolina, at a little General Store.  I worked the summer after my second year of law school in Boone, North Carolina.  My then boyfriend, future soon-to-be ex-husband,  would drive up for long weekends, surprising me with his devotion and dedication to our relationship.  We planned all types of excursions… to old stores and old houses, on hikes and on long, winding drives.  One of our favorite things to do was just to get in the car and go in any particular direction with no particular destination.

It was on one of those drives that we found ourselves in Todd, at a little general store that sat off the road with high, rickety steps up to the porch.  On the porch, a little old woman sat signing books she wrote about a lost love.  Inside the store there was a little lunch counter and a lot of old men sitting around chattering about life and love and times gone by.  If you looked out the front door, you could see a gazebo where, apparently, music was played every Friday night.  When my ex announced he played guitar, he was immediately embraced into their inner circle and they invited him to come “pick” with them, playing old songs and sharing new ones.  He was comfortable and familiar then, in any situation, and he joyfully discussed country songs and possible plans for another Friday, another weekend.

Before we left, he saw the little red turtle on a shelf of knick knacks.  He picked it up and showed it to me; “you love turtles!” And I did.  So he bought it for me and we placed it in the pocket indentation of my car where the display flashed the time and the temperature.  We named him Todd, and he stayed there in the car until the day, several years later, when that car was totalled on a drive through Atlanta… same two passengers, same old Todd.  There wasn’t a place for Todd in the new car so he was relegated to my desk at work, a memory of that summer day… that long, summer drive. 

I hadn’t thought about that day in a long time.  Hadn’t thought about how I tried to break up with him over the phone and then he appeared on my doorstep, begging me for another chance, telling me that we were meant for each other and that he couldn’t imagine a life without me.  I let him in; I let him back in.  And we drove that weekend down to the General Store in Todd and made a memory.

Today, J was playing with Todd in my office.  He dropped him against the desk and in an instant, the tiny red head snapped off the body. 


Another memory broken.

And I felt foolish as I wiped away the tears.  I felt foolish for missing the man I so desperately loved that day.  I felt foolish for wishing I could rewind time and go back to that warm day, as we climbed the stairs hand in hand.  I felt foolish as I remembered every curve of his face and even the way he smelled that morning, fresh from the shower .  No amount of tears could be enough for this.  No amount of tears could ever express how broken this all is… how broken I am.  And so I felt foolish, even as I wiped away the tears and lovingly placed Todd into the trashcan at my feet.  And then even more foolish as I retrieved him, scared to part with that memory, and tucked him into a drawer… out of sight… yet still loved.


9 Responses to “It’s Just a Turtle…”

  1. Erica Snipes
    July 13th, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

    Hmmm. One of those times when a turtle is so clearly not just a turtle. And there will be things like “Todd” that pop up every now and then and amaze you with their ability to instantly bring those memories, and perhaps a tear or two. But it’s all for the good, and maybe sometime you’ll be able to just give a little sad smile for all of the “Todds” you have and have lost in this change of relationship you are now in the midst of. Someday you’ll be able to talk to J as a young man, or perhaps a grown man, and give some sage advice on relationships, memories, and the importance in keeping your individual self as whole as you can in your relationships, however perfect or not so perfect they may be. In the meantime, I offer a sad smile at the loss of Todd, and a virtual hug through the blogosphere…

  2. Babe_Chilla
    July 13th, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

    Sigh. This makes me sad for you. I can’t imagine how you feel, but I do know how something so seemingly “small” can overwhelm you.

    Be kind to yourself. I think that was a very normal reaction. I’d personally be a huge sobbing mess!

    It will get better, it will get better, it WILL GET BETTER!

  3. Anthony from CharismaticKid
    July 13th, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    I just broke up with my girlfriend of four months today. She helped me assemble my apartment.

  4. Jennifer
    July 13th, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    There is nothing foolish about that. Superglue his head back on and put him back on your desk. It is okay to hang on to some happy. You don’t have to let it all go.

  5. Chunky Mama
    July 13th, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    I’m with Jennifer on this. Pull out the super glue and keep him. Nothing wrong with keeping something that will help you tell J a happy story about his parents. (Nothing wrong with keeping him just because you want to either.)

  6. Rusti
    July 14th, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

    I’m with Jennifer and Chunky Mama – you should be able to hold on to some of the happiness that you had, no matter what the end result was…

    sorry for your broken turtle, and your broken heart… sending love & *hugs* your way.

  7. KristinaYellow
    July 14th, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    I like that you are keeping the pieces-because one day you’ll be able to share story with your son and he’ll see that his parents share happy memories. One day you’ll be able to look at that turtle and only have fond memories-no pain. I hope that day is sooner rather than later. Meanwhile-know you are loved.

  8. Carol
    July 15th, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    I’m with your fellow readers – super glue that bad boy back together and put it back on your desk. Getting rid of every single little item that reminds you of him won’t make it any easier (at least in my opinion!) You clearly have an attachment to the turtle so I say keep it! I’ve got super glue you can borrow! 🙂 Hugs

  9. Cate
    July 15th, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    Please please please go easy on yourself. You’re most certainly NOT foolish. It takes a great deal of courage in this day and age to admit anything other than perfection (and “perfection” is something that is all too often amplified in the blogosphere).
    It’s ok to mourn the (perfect) life you dreamed might occur. It’s ok to hold on to “silly” little knick-knacks: just because they’re silly and cheap,doesn’t mean they’re without value.
    PS – superglue it and make it a new metaphor: you’re in the process of super-gluing yourself back together too 🙂

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