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.