Reflections on a lost elephant

Posted on
Apr 10, 2012

I intended to hang on to the elephant for longer. Rand bought him for me on a rainy afternoon at a toy store in Portland. He was sitting in clear bin in the window, with a zoofull of other animals.

A plastic menagerie.

He reminded me of my friend Chrissy. She loves elephants. I had hoped to take him on my adventures with me. To photograph him around the cities I traveled to, and share them with her later. But I only had the presence of mind to take a few shots in Portland. Passersby stared at me like I was a nuts. A grown woman. A plastic elephant.

Days later, I found him at the bottom of my bag. We were out to brunch, and I was digging through my purse looking for someone to entertain my friend’s six-year-old son, who sat so attentively and sweetly by my side through the meal. And I found the elephant, and a small plastic giraffe that I’d also purchased.

And he played with them on a table top sticky with syrup.

Later, I gave him the giraffe and elephant to take home with him. How could I not? It’s impossible to ask a child to return your toys. Just the idea is absurd. So I said goodbye to the lot of them.

Chrissy’s elephant didn’t get to see all the things I had hoped he would. He didn’t come with me to Spain, or Germany, or London. But that’s okay. He’s off on another adventure now, in the sticky hands of a six-year-old boy.

And frankly, I can’t think of anything better than that.

Leave a Comment

  • I am reminded of The Four Immutable Laws of the Spirit: Whoever is present are the right people. Whenever it begins is the right time. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. And when it’s over, it’s over. (Thank you, Anne Lamott.) Let’s add one, shall we? Wherever a toy elephant goes, that’s where he’s meant to be. Good call!

  • I just discovered your blog through Time’s list and must say my first impression, reading the elephant story, makes me want to come back asap !
    greetings from brussels,
    anni

  • And the story of the little plastic elephant continues … Love it!

  • I love that you describe this blog as ‘a love letter to you husband’ in your ‘about’ section. I am new here and I can’t wait to read more of your wonderful posts. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  • You did the right thing. The world is a better place because of it.

  • Kristina Cline

    Thats cute, plus it gives you an excuse to buy another plastic toy.

  • Pan

    What a quirky idea. I love it. Maybe I need something to take on all my travels. You did a good deed by giving him up though.

  • reminds me of the ending of Toy Story 3

  • Sam

    Great pics of the elephant. Do you mind me asking what camera you used? Love the blog too!

  • I have a stuffed Winnie the Pooh we’ve taken all over – even the Pyramids! Some people think we are crazy, but more often than not they want to play along. :). Also, the hubby finds jokes like “Look, there’s Pooh on the Danube!” to be endlessly entertaining so everybody wins.

  • Skippy

    Very sweet. Does your little friend know the story of his new playmate?

  • A really cute story. Thanks for sharing, I smile now!

  • Kind of sad. But sweet, too.

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