'...for when he moves, his house moves, too, and nothing can prevent it'
He poked his head in the door and asked me if I was sure, and honestly, I thought I was, so I lied.
"Completely," I told my husband. "Take it to the curb."
As soon as the door slammed shut behind him, I sat statue still for one, two, three, four, five seconds (I know it was exactly five because I counted each tick, forcing myself not to change my mind and go stop him) before I jumped up from the couch, dashed through the family room and the kitchen, then screeched to a halt at the front door window just as he was rounding the front of the house, dragging the Little Tykes turtle sandbox behind him. You think turtles move at a snail's pace? Not the case when my husband is leading the parade.
With a muffled thud, the sandbox came to rest at the curb amid an assortment of empty cardboard boxes, peg boards, and metal shelving, waiting to be picked over by the junk vultures. When my husband turned to venture back into the garage in what I hoped would be a sequel to his first successful release, Quest For Useless Shit We (Meaning You, Tool Man) Don't Need, he caught me watching from the window, so I smiled, barely, and lifted my hand up in what I imagined he'd take as a friendly gesture. A thumbs up that would encourage him to forage deeper where once a car fit for him to find more to throw out along with the sandbox.
But really? Really my wave was meant as a final salute to the turtle sandbox that's been (strike that now - HAD been) in our backyard for the last eight years. I thought I'd been ready to see it go. Honestly. But when I got up Saturday morning and raised the blinds to open the windows so I could hear the boys playing in the backyard and they could hear me yelling out to them to quit wrestling, stop touching him already, for the love of God didn't we already have this discussion yesterday, my eyes immediately fell on the perfectly round circle of dirt in the middle of the yard where the turtle had made it's home and, speaking of for the love of God, my heart filled with regret.
It's not that the boys have played in the turtle sandbox much over the last couple of years. Hell, it's not like the turtle sandbox had held it's primary ingredient for the last couple of years! But what it was (no longer is) was a link to my boys when they were little.
Little, little, little.
Like I want them to still be.
Little tykes, you might say.
But as they like to remind me by their actions if not necessarily their words, my boys aren't such little tykes anymore. The days when we'd tumble out into the backyard to uncover the sandbox and explore ended, really, last summer, when I spent more time reminding them the turtle's hard outer shell was there to cover the sand, not act as a springboard for their backyard gymnastics. We very rarely had tiny sand castles to build anymore. Less frequently were the least favorite Matchbox cars brought out to bust through elaborate sand dunes. The days of sifting through the grains in a quest for gold became fewer, and the imaginary restaurant where I'd watch two chefs stir pots with plastic shovels while placing orders for plates of spaghetti and slices of blueberry pie was closed down, a victim of either the economy or the health inspectors. By the time I told my husband to drag it to the curb last Friday, the turtle sandbox had become more a petri dish where the latest pandemic was likely brewing, and it's lid, split and faded, no longer wanted to heal after another last ditch duct tape surgery.
By next week, grass will be growing in the space where the turtle sandbox has (had) rested for years. My boys will race over it while in the midst of some new game, and perhaps they'll forget the days we spent kneeled around the turtle's innards while building elaborate systems of dams and rivers we filled with bucket after bucket of water from the outdoor spigot. That's OK, really. But I'm pretty sure I won't, because like a turtle's long lifespan, my memories of my no longer so little boys will remain, even if the turtle sandbox doesn't.