We opted to come back to Montreal in 2011, to be near our friends and family. We unpacked our belongings in a spacious apartment on the west side of the island. It ended up being the wrong fit, and we packed our lives and moved to a smaller apartment, one that we now call home.
We first instilled life into our children’s room. When we were done with it, we knew there was enough magic on the walls and in the bookshelves and toy chests by the look of silent wonderment on the faces of our wide-eyed kids. We transformed our living room into a family room, maximized the tiny kitchen space, and dumped everything else in our bedroom. We slept between piles of dirty laundry, vintage toys, unpacked boxes, and an alarm clock. Last weekend—a year after our big move—we decided to claim our sleeping quarters with a visit to IKEA and the help of my mother-in-law.
Confined in our closets were not boxes of clothes or dishes, or drawings made by our kids, but eleven boxes of vintage Star Wars and other random toys collected over time. A year ago I thought they were the least important things, items I could live without. We concentrated on the everyday necessities, on what would make our life easiest, and of course, on what would make our kids happy. And it worked, and it was the right thing to do. We wanted to reside in central Montreal, where you pay more for every square foot of living space. What makes it out of moving boxes is handpicked, and what doesn’t make the cut is relegated to whatever storage is included with your lease.
My wife and her mother fixed the IKEA shelves in our bedroom and family room and suggested/insisted that we display some of my toys. I wasn’t sure, I didn’t want to, I was scared: I wasn’t sure that I wanted to open the boxes because I didn’t want to acknowledge the condition of my collection after the move, and scared of unleashing feelings that I packed along with my figurines. A bag was brought to me. “Unpack it, honey… just do it.” And so I did. I dusted off my robots from The Black Hole, Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica series, and Luke and Leia and Han Solo, with trembling hands. I handed the toys to my wife, who placed my collection on the shelves.
After more than 40 years of existence, travelling in bubble wrap between the USA and Canada, being handled by nerds and geeks and collectors, my figurines breathe again in our Montreal apartment.
I laid in bed that night looking at my collection, and realized that these toys meant more to me than I cared to admit. It’s a mint collection, or just about. I have many valuable items, and I would be proud to lend my rarer pieces to vintage toy exhibits. But these figurines are part of my childhood and my mythology, each one has a story, and being surrounded by them gave me a renewed sense of completeness. I fell asleep happy.
> Featured image by Ivan Escalante Victoria. Used with the expressed consent of the artist.