Featured Image: My best friend, Bubba, and a print I did of him in my junior year of college.
Someone recently asked me what my most important possessions are while we were talking about traveling. I answered: my laptop, my diary, and my teddy bear, Bubba. My laptop, of course, is to write. My diary, as I’ve explained before, is for memory-keeping reasons. My teddy bear, however, is a completely different kind of useful and sentimental object.
I feel guilty when he falls under my bed for a few days, only to be found on a search and rescue mission when I suddenly notice his absence. Just now, as I write about him, I frantically looked up and didn’t see him immediately, and felt guilty for yet again leaving him out. But when I looked down, he was right there, under my right elbow, perfectly happy being crushed as long as he was doing it for me.
I believe my guilt about him stems from the childhood trauma that I’m sure many of you can relate to– the day my mom put him in the dryer.
I barely remember what Bubba looked like before the accident. I have only a foggy memory of picking him out at my grandma’s house. He was the softest thing I’d ever touched, and his sweet face asked me to keep him forever. He was, when we had first met, my favorite stuffed animal, but my undying devotion to him really only solidified when he lost his good looks.
When he came out of the dryer, he became coarse and pilly. His eyes were cracked and looked as if he had glaucoma. He looked thinner. I cried hysterically as any six-year-old would, but I still loved him, and I thought, if I didn’t, who would?
From then on, we were attached at the hip. He came on vacations to New Hampshire, Disney World, Washington D.C., Niagra Falls, New York City, Virginia Beach, he went camping down the Cape, and he even got to go on a cruise. He was treated kindly by the cleaning staff, always propped up on a pillow or tucked into bed. He always flew with me either on my lap or in my carry-on, not in my luggage, for fear of losing him was too much to bear. When I take him on vacations now, like my last two writing retreats I attach a luggage tag around his neck with my information in case we get separated.
He came to college with me, of course. He attended parties in my dorm. He was carefully turned to face the wall when I had boys over. He even once came to class with me on a particularly bad day. He met my english professor, Tackach, who of course questioned his presence, but was not judgemental of it.
Bubba has been squeezed on, cried on, slept on. He’s been there through every break up. When he falls off the bed I apologize. I talk to him. I wash his Patriot’s sweatshirt with my laundry. I rub the soft underside of one of his ears, the one spot the dryer didn’t get.
And while I might be alone in my utter devotion, I’m not the only 24-year-old who still loves their teddy. A survey of 2,004 adults, commissioned by Build-A-Bear Workshop, showed that 40% still slept with their childhood teddy bear, and many more still had theirs.
I often wonder when the day will come that Bubba will slip under my bed and go unnoticed for months, only to be found during regular cleaning, and put on a shelf, never to be cuddled again. Will it be when I move in with a significant other? When we get married? When I have kids?
But for now, and for the foreseeable future, Bubba is my muse, my confidante, my traveling partner, my shoulder to cry on, and my most precious friend.