I’ve long since known that this moment would come, but I haven’t prepared for it. It’s no secret that I’ve had a teddy bear all my twenty-four years, nor am I ashamed of it. I might’ve been at one point, but Really Bear (yes, that’s what my toddler self decided was an appropriate name for a teddy bear who was “really a bear!”) has been just as much a part of my life as any other member of my family. No, I didn’t bring him to the dinner table or take him out of the house, except on vacation, but he was there for all of it.
When I first brought a boy back to my house and bedroom I tossed Really Bear aside, more because I didn’t want to corrupt him with the indecency of whatever was going on than because I was ashamed to have a stuffed animal. A somewhat well adjusted teenager, I went off to college at eighteen, but Really Bear came along. A constant for me at a time when he spent more time “shielding his eyes” than I care to admit, Really Bear was a reminder that I could grow up, but I didn’t have to be an adult just yet.
I long wondered how I would make the decision to remove a childish teddy bear, frayed and faded in color from the center spot on my pillows. Really Bear topped off each bed-making, always, so how would I choose to be the adult whose bed is not adorned with a teddy bear whose eyes are barely visible under the over-cuddled “fur”? It was never an addiction or dependency; I’d gone on vacation without Really Bear, I could sleep at night, peacefully, without him, so how is it that on January 7, 2011 I was able to consciously take Really Bear and place him in a cabinet, squashed up like some second-rate Beanie Baby with no resale value?
First, let me say that Really Bear made the cross-country trip with me back in November. Unavoidably stuffed in the overstuffed car and the subject of scrutiny (?), judgement (?), observation (?) in the mouth of my boyfriend’s father. I defended myself, and said that of course Really Bear made the trip, *wink wink*, as if I was shielding the ears of a small child whose feelings were to be protected. But really, why bring along a nearly twenty-five year old stuffed animal? Old habits die hard, I tell you. A rational (at times), intelligent, responsible adult still sometimes needs a reminder of her roots. Really Bear, somehow, serves that purpose.
Moving into my new apartment this last week I had time to myself before my new “roommate” arrived. I took the time to make the bed nicely and thought long and hard about Really Bear and then placed him in his usual spot. Once my boyfriend (and new roommate) arrived, without so much as a sideways glance, I found myself saying aloud, “I guess Really Bear should probably be retired, huh?” and was met with an affirmative response.
That was it, like a band-aid, and all of a sudden I’m an adult who shares a bed with a man, not a bear. I still keep two pictures of me as a toddler on my nightstand, just in case I need to remember what’s important.