When he was a child, Devon had lots of toys. He would get new ones all the time, even when it wasn’t a birthday or Christmas. The toys he already had would end up on the floor or kicked under his bed, whenever a new one came along. Eventually his parents would make him clean his room and the toys would get tossed in a garbage bag. His Dad would drag them down to the basement where they sat, piled up next to the other bags of forgotten toys. Once, every year or two, a large garbage bin would get dropped off in the back alley. His dad would purge the basement of all the old toys, unwanted furniture and miscellaneous clutter that had been amassed. As each bag of toys was carted out the back door, Devon would try to stop his father from throwing them all away. Grabbing a bag or two and rummaging through them. Salvaging this toy or that, giving various reasons as to why he needed to keep those specific toys.
“This was my favorite! I got it when we went to that park with Mike that one time, remember?” He’d explain as his Dad stared down, unconvinced.
“If it’s your favorite, how come it’s sat in a bag for two years forgotten?” Shaking his head at Devon. On a couple items, his Dad would relent, often too exhausted to put up a fight. But most of the bags were tossed in the dumpster and hauled away.
For a few days, the recovered toys would garner his attention, get tossed around in the backyard, flung down the slide or pushed on a swing. But soon enough, a new toy or two would arrive from his Grandparents. Or he’d beg his Mom and Dad to buy him something while they were at the store. The old toys would be cast aside once more. Stuffed in a corner or left under the swing set out back.
Devon had grown up surrounded by love. His parents were ever present, his grandparents were close and saw him often. He had been shown affection, been told ‘I love you’ and hugged daily. He knew he loved his family. Some members more than others. But it was difficult for him to express it. His Mom would kiss his cheek and his Dad would give him long hugs every time they took him to the airport. His school was out of town, not too far, only an few hours by plane. He would come home during holidays and then again in the summer to work. And every time, his parents walked him all the way into the terminal to make sure he went through the correct gate.
“Dad, you’re wasting money on parking here. This airport charges a fortune to park. Just drop me off, I’ll be fine.” He would protest from the back seat.
“Don’t be silly. Five dollars an hour isn’t a fortune. Besides, we will be in and out before the first hour is even up. Are you embarrassed to be hugged and kissed in public by your Mom and I?”
“No, Dad it’s not that. I’m just trying to save you the hassle of parking and coming inside. We have been doing this four or five times a year, for three years now! I’m not going to get lost in there.”
“I like going into the airport” His mother responded turning around to face him. “There’s some good people watching to do in there” She was always spying on other people in the airport. Trying to guess who they were with and where they were headed. Devon sighed and sat back in the seat. No use arguing. He’d be back in his own place soon enough. He looked down at his new carry on bag. His old one wasn’t worn out yet, but his Mom had seen this one on sale and insisted he have it. The old one would get donated or something, she had said.
When he walked in the door, he could hear Sara in the kitchen. It sounded like she was doing dishes and singing to herself. He snuck around the corner and surprised her from behind. She gave out a shriek and dropped a handful of cutlery into the sink, bubbles and water splashing back up on her.
“Asshole!” She turned to him and before he could move, grabbed his face with her wet hands, pulling him in for a kiss. Devon smiled, kissing her back.
Sara had lived there for the last few weeks. They had only been dating for three months, but she talked him into letting her move in. So far it wasn’t bad. They didn’t get on each other’s nerves and to his surprise, he still wanted to be around her. This last fact was as shocking to Devon as it was to all his friends. He had been in many relationships in his life so far, but none of them ever lasted very long. Back when he was 13, he obviously didn’t expect to have any serious girlfriends. Almost all the kids in his school had been shuffling from one relationship to the next. Each time there was a school dance, once every two months or so, there was a slew of new couples while others fell apart.
In high school, he had a few friends that dated the same boy or girl for a year or two. One guy, Ryan, was still with his tenth-grade girlfriend after all this time! But they were weird and perfect for each other. So, when Devon stared university, he had hopes that he’d find that special someone to be with for a while.
But his track record from earlier years was not to be easily broken.
The first girl he dated upon his arrival to University. He was new to the City, new to the school, and feeling pretty alone when he stepped off the plane for the first time. Janelle was in his statistics class and she was the first person to talk to him at the school. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they would sit next to each other in the back row while the professor droned on about spurious variables and plotting bell curves. To pass the time, Devon and Janelle would text back and forth. Each trying to make the other one laugh loud enough to get chastised for interrupting the class. Their relationship was very playful and a lot of fun, for a few weeks.
She was crazy hot in Devon’s eyes. She rode a motorcycle to school and often had tight leather pants on. Her long black hair would spill out of her helmet each morning when she got off her bike out front of his dorm. Devon made sure their paths crossed often and managed to convince her to join him for drinks one night. Janelle forgotten and cast aside, he and Emily started a fiery and passionate romance. She rode her motorcycle, then she rode him. He was hardly able to keep up with her and he loved it. Statistics class was often skipped, partly to avoid Janelle but mostly because Emily was free for a quick visit at that time. Then, after three weeks of intense passion, Emily had to go home for a family emergency, leaving Devon on his own again.
While Emily was gone, Devon started a new hobby. He began attending poetry readings at the small café on the south side of campus. He had heard about it through his English class and thought girls would be into a guy who was into poetry. Allison was a beautiful, pale red head with bright green eyes. She would read her poems to the small crowd or sip coffee while listening as others read theirs. Devon figured if he could write some romantic words and glance up at her while he read them, she would fall for him. And she did. He was cute enough, and not a bad writer. He knew all the right words to say and seemed to genuinely care about his poetry and about her. And yet, after a month had passed, (and a messy encounter between Devon, Allision and Emily outside a bar downtown), Devon lost interest. His eye wandered, and his appetite for something new took him in another direction.
The trail of broken hearts grew longer, and Devon went on, unaware of the pain he had caused. Janelle spent months analyzing their relationship, trying to figure out what she did wrong. Emily was hurt and angry. She’d left a pile of Devon’s stuff out front of his room, on fire. Allison let her emotions out through her poetry, which had become dark and threatened suicide. All of these lives had been touched and altered while Devon skipped along from one girl to the next.
But now, with Sara, he had his longest relationship yet. She seemed proud to be the girl that broke Devon's nasty habit.
One afternoon, after making love on the sofa, Sara got up, leaving Devon in a warm fuzzy mood. She called out from the bedroom.
“What’s with this garbage bag in your closet?” Devon’s heart skipped a beat as she came into the room dragging the black plastic sack.
“That’s, uh, that’s just some old junk I need to throw away” He got up and started towards her. Sara began pulling items from the bag. Devon watched as she pulled the treasures of his past out one by one. Janelle’s note book she’d let him borrow to study for their first exam. The leather riding gloves Emily had left behind. Allison’s scarf. A few sweaters, a bra and a pair of earrings all came tumbling out with a few more miscellaneous scraps from his former lovers.
“Those are just old things that people left behind in the apartment. I was going to donate them or toss them in the trash” Devon explained.
“Why don’t I take this all out to the garbage bin right now?” Sara said flatly as she stuffed the items back in. She was generally a very calm person so her hostility towards these inanimate objects surprised Devon.
Time seemed to slow down while he looked on as each memento disappeared back into the bag. Flashing back to the days when his Dad had dragged his old toys to the dumpster. He had an excuse for keeping each one. The memories of the intimacy he shared with each woman came back to him. He had ended each relationship quickly and coldly. Tossed each one aside for the next. But as he watched Sara take the bag out the apartment door, his heart broke over and over again for his lost loves.
His old toys gone, soon to be replaced by something new.