Sleeping with Sealie

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.

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Half the Story

It was my dad’s suggestion to keep a blog that’s made me even more intent on writing for one. Because it meant that my father had let go of his anger of me lying to him about being an ITI major when I was an English major. Of course, I’m not an English major anymore; instead I’m saving my parents several grands and because of that they can’t complain about my choice to pursue what I want.

I know they’re scared I won’t be able to find financial security and independence. It scares me too. I want to have my own place and luxury. It adds pressure on choosing to be a writer.

But I also know this is the right choice for me. So it is important for me to get my writing out there. Except while this blog is still under construction, no one is to know about it. Well, my parents do. I had to tell them I’m trying.

I let my mother read the entries I have so far so she got an idea of what the goal of the blog was. Still quite unknown to me, I suppose I  am focusing on mini personal essays that really showcase my writing style and my voice rather than content. Of course I won’t know for sure what people get out of the blog until I spread the word of its existence.

I wonder then what impact this entry would have.

But that is why I like my blog: I am not writing for an audience. Out there online, people can choose to read it for what it is – or not. I’m just sharing stories.

My mom warned me about using names. I had real first names up until my mom voiced her fears of their rights. At first I tried to fight back – where were my journalistic integrity rights? I was not preaching slander of any sort; I am simply telling stories from my perspective. This means that my stories are mine. Told from my friend’s perspective, it could come off as entirely different.

That’s really the beauty of it.

It is what makes me excited about collaborating with who would have been my future roommate had I stayed in Demarest next year. My residence hall has a special policy that allows for co-ed living and in a spur of the moment decision in the face of the friend I had talked to about living together for months choosing to live with someone else, RTD and I agreed to live together. He and I bonded quickly with our love for writing and over a prospective idea of sharing a story written from two perspectives. A friend I never expected to gain, I almost fear the loss when I tell him that I am graduating this year changing all the plans we joked about.

This “fear” feels fake though because I cannot write his name; the information I withhold turns this into a fiction that can be applicable to anyone. But I finally understand how people can be accused of lying because they’ve kept a secret.

And yet – I have to respect people’s privacy. And for my account to be respected, I have to respect their account. After all, it’s all our parts together that complete the whole story.

All anyone will ever be reading is half the story and it’s okay because it leaves room for imagination to fill in the blanks of  why and what they were thinking.