Melina Mehr

         This online project is a loose visual timeline of my personal collection and memories, as well as broader relations to identity-building, the Internet, and issues of nostalgia. But first, the collector...

Celebrating a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese's. From L-R: My brother Emile, myself, my cousin Nabeel, & a friend of Emile/Nabeel.

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          Born in Toronto in 1992, I spent my early childhood growing up in the city before moving to Sharon, Ontario at six years old. I began collecting Ty Beanie Babies during this time, which came into production in 1993. They were overwhelmingly popular and saturated the market in the form of print, promotions, and in-store/mall booths. I recall flipping through various shop flyers, from Toys’R’Us to Wal-Mart and seeing galleries of Beanie Babies in a variety of styles. As we celebrated special occasions at Rainforest Cafe in Yorkdale Mall, a Beanie Baby booth stood outside the entrance, swarmed with equally aged children. I was never allowed to purchase more than one at a time, but over the course of many years, my pile accumulated.

           In 2001 when I was nine years old, my family relocated to Abu Dhabi, U.A.E for work and health reasons. Not fully understanding the scope of this monumental move, I assumed I would still see my friends and teachers again, eventually return to our home in Sharon, and continue living the same day-to-day life: waiting for the school bus on the corner of my street, eating mass amounts of Eggo Waffles and bagels, and intricately constructing snow forts. In one grade three journal entry, a year before the move was known, I had written that my father went to visit the U.S.E — corrected by Ms. Clause to U.S.A. I knew her edit was wrong, but despite my expressive personality, I was far too shy to ever approach — let alone correct — my teachers, especially when not even knowing what the correction should be.

          Beanie Babies were not around in the Emirates. The country was only thirty years old at the time, and despite its rapid globalization, most objects were European and Middle Eastern based, not American. There was only one speciality grocery store, Spinneys, that sold Eggos and bagels at such a high cost that we rarely purchased them. Instead, I grew to love the fresh baked Afghani bread wrapped in newspaper from the tiny cat-crawled bakery below our apartment building. Beanie Babies were no where to be found as the Ty empire had not stretched across to U.A.E, and thus, my collection halted. Click through the side navigation bar to learn more about this seminal period of my life, my Ty collection, and theoretical investigations on issues of identity, collecting, and the construction of nostalgia in a Web-based society.

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