Sunday, October 10, 2004

Return of the Return of the Jedi (Cards)

One day when I was 16 years old, I threw away my collection of Return of the Jedi trading cards and stickers.

I had spent over a year carefully collecting, counting, and sorting these cards, back when I was 12. They were the kind that came 10 to a pack, with a piece of (non-kosher) gum included. When the local grocer got new shipments of these cards, my sister and I would buy the entire cash-register display of 20 packs, throw away the gum, and then spend the afternoon poring over the cards and putting them in order. I had at least one complete set of the cards -- a red series and a blue series, plus a few dozen stickers-- and hundreds of duplicates. They were my pride and joy.

But when I was 16 I decided one day that Return of the Jedi cards were childish, and it was time to grow up and shed these immature hobbies. And so . . . . I can hardly stand to type these words . . . I threw my own collection in the garbage.

The next day I regretted it, but it was too late. Over the next, oh, 12 years I thought sometimes of that foolhardy desire to grow up and sighed with regret. A few years ago I told a male person in my life about what had happened and about the empty hole in my life where my Return of the Jedi cards should be, and he very generously gave me his own (alas, incomplete) collection from when he was a kid. At the time I was filled with gratitude and felt that an incomplete set of cards given generously by a special person in my life was much better than my own original collection.

Unfortunately, that male person later became He Who Must Not Be Named. I thought for a while of returning the cards, to rid myself of any vestiges of his memory. After a few moments of deep reflection, though, I decided that his having run my ego into the ground was no reason to part with Star Wars memorabilia, and compromised by putting them in an inconspicuous spot on my bookshelf. But every time I looked at them, the joy I should have had in owning them was tainted by the knowledge that the set was incomplete. And, oh, yes, that He Who Must Not Be Named had ripped my heart out, cut it into little pieces, stomped on them, burned the mess, and then thrown the ashes into a cesspool. But I digress.

Fast forward to two days ago, when my mother announced that all these years, unbeknownst to me, my sister's enormous collection of Return of the Jedi cards had been packed away in our basement, and that my sister had decided to give it all to me.

"Don't get too excited," my sister warned, as I jumped up and down and shook with triumph and ecstasy. "I have no idea what's down there. It might be only 5 cards."

It was not only 5 cards. It was a huge box brimming with precious Return of the Jedi cards. First I shook with triumph and ecstasy some more, and yelled "I'm rich! I'm rich!" in a slightly maniacal way. Then, perhaps because my childhood was being returned along with the Jedi, or perhaps because we were busy packing up the house I've lived in since I was four, or perhaps because I was jetlagged, or perhaps because I am just a leeeeetle beet eccentric, I started to cry. Real, sobby, weepy tears.

My sister and nephew and I spent an afternoon poring and counting and sorting, and created -- yes-- an almost complete set (missing just 3 stickers! Perhaps easily obtained on ebay!) for me to take home with me to Israel. So now the Force will be with me, always.

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