In the nostalgia and bleary-eyed romanticism that Valentine’s Day inspires, I decided to rummage through my old things-from-home that had made it here but taken residence under the bed. I happened to find my little white teddy bear from my six-year-old days. Emotions ran strong at the sight of him, but what captivated me even more was a quickly scrawled love letter from me to him that I found at his feet. I must have written it a year ago and forgotten about it, but it certainly stirred up something in me. For all the dreamers and lost ones, for all the teddy-clutching kids at heart, I leave it here.
(I called you that because there were little factory-made sparkles woven into the heart stitched on your white furry skin)
(your Official Beanie Babies name was Valentino or something)
I remember the feel of your fur on my cheek as I gave you sloppy, childish good night kisses. I would bring you to daycare with me, stuffing you clandestinely into my backpack; amid lunches and tiny ballet shoes, you would jostle in suffocation until I inevitably pulled you out and into my embrace.
(The other kids were too much to deal with – I much preferred pushing you in the tire swing to being pushed under it, kicked around. Laughter was hollow and cruel. Those first-grade fuckers.)
You survived as a visitor in my bed for much longer than you should have. I was a lonely second third fourth fifth sixth seventh eighth grader. You were my little, forever-smiling refuge. Time and love wore through patches of your fur, took their toll on the shine of your eyes and nose, pulled at the stitching of your mouth and heart. Love, after all, is often sandpaper. I didn’t mind. I kissed away the imperfections.
(Scars are beautiful.)
I grew, as they always do. I cut the hair from my eyes, learned to paint my eyelashes thicker, showed my orthodontosized teeth a little more often. You drowned in the tangle of my bed-sheets; I did not resuscitate you.
Moving boxes and taking posters down from my walls recently, I found you at my feet. My room had to be clean for the realtor coming at noon. I kicked you under the bed.
That night, world crumbling, past gasping, I rushed to the room and dove under the bed, pulling you from the depths of winter-night darkness. I climbed among the bed-sheet ocean, let the waves crash, held you dearly. In the crook of my arm, you handed me your forever-smile.
I smiled. I cried.
The tears landed on your sparkled heart.
You let them.
Twinkles, I love you.
How I miss the playground days.
How I grab at them.
How they evaporate.
How the world-tide is crashing.
How I’ve been afraid.
I’ve been so afraid, Twinkles.
More than anything, I thank you for your sparkling heart.