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Creative Writing

 

Illustration: Brian Rush

“Toy Box Comrades” Personal Reflection by Laura Milligan
Illustration: Brian Rush

My delight in developing intricate personalities for inanimate objects began at age three: I remember daydreaming that a piece of lint blowing about my Grandma Ruby’s windowsill was a tiny white man. I later had nightmares about that lint, and I believe it was at that moment that the need to develop character traits for the things around me kicked into high gear. I thought Mr. Lint was trying to convey something to me, and even if it meant overcoming a nightmare or two I would, because I had to know what he wanted. Attributes and back-stories became crucial. A grasshopper wasn’t a grasshopper but rather “Ramona” (or “Pneumonia” as my sister chose to articulate), whose death was worthy of a grand ceremony. I spent many afternoons dreaming up intricate chronologies for my Sylvanian Family (the bear family – a fantastic Barbie alternative), and for the Plasticine village I constructed with my sister in the basement.

Consequently, my tendency to anthropomorphize long predates my university art history classes: those hours devoted to endless slide lectures on personification in iconography. However, I think the mind’s eye needed to appreciate the context of Mannerist art or the symbolism behind a Jan van Eyck is comparable to believing tall tales. It is not far off, for example, from the ability to be convinced by your father’s story of “Harvey”—a six foot rabbit that was adopted by a family of robots (who preferred petrol-based meals). When I received a large yellow rabbit with mischievous eyebrows, I was relieved that I could keep closer tabs on the whereabouts of said Harvey between bedtimes.

Illustration: Brian Rush

The fanciful perception I had of my surroundings was often about trusting objects. If a sculpture was just a sculpture, the deadness of the object was unnerving. Sleepovers at friend’s houses were a bit hairy if the doll in the corner was staring at me with a nameless, attribute-free glare. The elephant giving me the side-eye or the strong hands of the antique clock loudly grinding each passing minute were cold, lifeless and menacing.

 
 

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