Moving is a nightmare for anyone. But for doll collectors, that pain is magnified by as many dolls you’ve amassed over the years. I last moved nine years ago, when my husband and I relocated from Maryland to Florida. Now we will retrace our steps, reuniting with family and friends and beginning a new chapter in our lives. And that all sounds great–until I go into my doll room and realize the massive amount of hoarding that I’ve engaged in during the past decade. And then I just want to say “fuck it,” and stay home.
When we relocated to Florida, my collection was roughly half of the size it is now, and I spent months lovingly packing each individual doll into its corresponding box. Hair nets were put on, ribbons were tied, silicon bead packs were included. I made damned sure no harm would come to my treasures on their journey. And I must admit that it was kind of fun going over each doll and creating a spreadsheet for all of them. I was able to spend time with and appreciate each one.
Today my collection is twice as large and I share my home with a hyperactive 5-year-old child and a menagerie of needy animals, all vying for my constant attention. I no longer have my mother to help out, and my “packing time” during the week is limited to the precious hour and a half I get to myself after my son finally goes to sleep and before I myself fall into bed exhausted.
I am finding this packing process to be the polar opposite of the “fun” I had preparing to move here. I long ago gave up trying to match up individual dolls with their original boxes. I just aim to match them up with their corresponding manufacturer box. That means that nearly all of my Tonner boxes have scribbles on their ends indicating the doll they now contain. Sometimes these scribbles are crossed out and relabeled multiple times. Limited space in our small townhouse (there are no basements in Florida) has meant that I’ve had to significantly cull the number of boxes I store. So this time, each girl will not have her own individual coffin in which to travel. Many of them (carefully packed) will make the journey in plastic bins. Assigning my girls to indignity of this mode of travel would have horrified me nine years ago. Now I don’t give a shit. They’ll be fine.
Our move will likely not take place until the end of the summer, but–knowing now how much time it can take to pack a collection of this magnitude–I began organizing, sorting, and packing dolls three weeks ago. Last weekend I packed dolls for two full days. On Sunday evening, I had packed 325 dolls. And it didn’t look like I made a dent.
I suppose at this point I’m supposed to get philosophical and ponder whether I own my things, or if my things, in fact, own me. And then I should conclude the latter, foreswear all material objects, and walk into the sunset in search of some ascetic commune to join.
But then I would miss the next doll convention. And I’m just not that strong.