When I was five, my family and I went to Florida. It wasn’t just my parents and I, we went with my cousins’ family too. We went to Disney World and Universal Studios and SeaWorld. It was my first “real” trip and I really enjoyed it.
My mom bought me a stuffed animal seal at SeaWorld. Back then, I was always keen on building my animal family collection. I slept with a lot of them of on my lower Queen sized bunk while others stayed on the top bunk. Even more animals remained packed away in boxes that my parents didn’t open after we moved from New York. There were thirty-two animals at one point on my bed and by the time I was twelve, my parents thought it was time for me to outgrow my love for my animals.
For two consecutive nights, they tried to wean me away. After tucking me in, they would take all my stuffed animals and put them on the top bunk with the animals that were too big to share my bed with. After they would leave, I would wait a couple of minutes before bringing down all my thirty-two “babies” down with me.
But I only brought down thirty-one and I forgot all about the last one for a week because my parents stopped putting my bed-residing stuffed animals away. I didn’t have a reason to look at my top bunk.
Every so often I liked to count the number of animals on my bed. It filled me with satisfaction to have so many. It was only after I counted and came one short did I panic. And when I stood on my tiptoes to look on my top bunk did I see my little stuffed animal seal sitting there with sad eyes waiting for me patiently.
Yes, one could say my love for my Sealie began with guilt, and I was overcompensating for it, but I also found her comforting because I found myself in a social corner in middle school. Misunderstandings between friends, jokes misconstrued, petty grudges held, I held Sealie closer at night because she made me feel less alone. I gave her a personality and life and I’d carry her in my knapsack to school almost every day.
This went on periodically into high school.
I only stopped sleeping with her my second semester in college and it wasn’t until this year that I placed her on my dresser amongst a decorative piece of a collection of animals. She was still my favorite, but my actions opposed my words.
But this spring break, she was the only stuffed animal I brought home and I have been cuddling her as I fall asleep in my childhood bed.
Sometimes it’s good to be a child again, to go back to those roots. Sometimes when the present becomes an overwhelming whirlwind affecting your identity, the only constant you have is your past. And when you turn to it, the more time you’ve had to grow, the more choices you have of who you used to be to shine through. I want to be the playful child I was while having my guarded high school character. I get to carry that with me always, like a mint in my purse that I can pick at first remembrance.
When my parents ask me about what career I am looking into, it gets overwhelming because I’m still figuring out what I will be doing this summer – when I’m not concocting ways to make the last two months of college memorable. The stress can make it hard to breathe sometimes. Times like that I’m glad that I haven’t completely outgrown nestling Sealie to my chest.
She’s so small now. Back when I was shorter, she’d feel so large against my torso. Now I dwarf her, but I hold on tighter. To her and all that she represents.
Everyone should have a Sealie. I feel bad for those who don’t.