How I became 'The Lion King collector'.
My name is Claudia and this is my story.
In the early nineties, I had already gone through some life changing events.
My parents divorced each other after some really rough years when I was 7 years old, my mother suffered from severe depression and was sometimes suicidal. Therefore she had to be hospitalised multiple times and I went from host family, back home, and eventually ended up living with my grandmother after my mother tried to end her life and had gone into a coma.
Living with an energetic young grandchild while worrying about her own daughter was a bit too much on my grandmother's plate and so my father and I got re-intruduced to one another and I moved in with him and his new girlfriend. He worked a lot and didn't see that my stepmom and I did not get along at all.
I felt so miserable after two years, I asked if it was ok to move back in with my mom, who was just discharged from the mental hospital. My father was hurt by this request and we didn't speak for many years.
Not long after moving back in with my mom, we had to draw the conclusion that this had been a mistake.
My mom also suffered from severe mysophobia and living with a ten year old that played outside made her anxiety too heavy for her to handle.
I was placed in a home for children with similar problems to mine, behavioural problems, troubled broken homes, etc. We had in common that we all could not live in our own homes and with our own (foster)parents for a while.
In the beginning it was hard to adjust. I'm an only child and had to learn to live together with other children and by other rules. After that, I began to have a great time. I made some friends and experienced things that I never had at home. Watching movies on the couch with soda and some crisps on a saturday night, going to an indoor swimming pool and: going to the movies.
We went to see The Lion King together and it made a HUGE impression on me.
I loved it so much, I started to collect some stuff like i'm sure many 11 year old kids do.
I really enjoyed shopping around for new things and saving up pocket money to buy it. Every time I had saved enough to buy the thing I had set my eyes on and actually took it home with me, I felt great!
News travelled fast about my collection, and people all around me -classmates, neighbors, family, friends, family and neighbors of friends- everyone began bringing in (their used) Lion King stuff to add to my collection.
I turned 12 in July 1995 and only a few months later, my mom felt so desperate and hopeless that she decided to end her life. This was devastating and I found a lot of comfort in my collection. Simba also lost his dad Mufasa and I could relate to the emotions, the sadness and lessons within the movie.
My collection grew larger over time and at 15, I moved to a foster home. I had already known them for a few years because their own daughter had been a classmate and friend of mine when in primary school.
It appeared we were very different type of people when I actually lived there and I often felt misunderstood.
They were unable to see what my collection meant to me and the comfort it gave me and thought I was obsessive.
I disagreed. We were too different, disagreed on too many things, and I moved out to live on my own with some professional guidance until I was 19.
I decided the silence between my dad and I had lasted long enough and I wrote him a letter.
Soon after that we met up and we both agreed that we wanted to invest in our relationship. A while before I wrote him the letter, he and my stepmom were divorced. This was a relief for me to hear. He also acknowledged he had made a mistake not seeing she wasn't nice to me back then.
I enjoyed having my dad back, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. A few months after we started seeing each other again he was diagnosed with lung cancer. We were given only three more months...
Again, my collection was of great comfort to me.
After losing both my parents, being all alone now, it was great to have something that was 'all mine'.
I found love, suffered from heartache, moved a couple of times, found love again and experienced several things more, but The Lion King was always there for me.
I'm happy to report i'm doing quite well nowadays, found the love of my life, have the best daughter together, have a sweet cat and an attic full of Lion King stuff which I lovingly call 'my sanctuary'.
A friend and fellow collector recently pointed out that my collection isn't just 'a bunch of stuff', but a collective effort from not only me, but all the people that have contributed to it. I really loved that observation because he is very right. Almost every piece i've collected tells a story.
That is what makes my collection special to me.