I love my family and friends. I love my husband best of all, but he wasn’t there in the beginning. When we talk about first loves, I have to skip anyone I’ve ever been on a date with, the boys I mooned over in junior high, the celebrity boys whose pictures from Tiger Beat were taped to my wall. (I was a Sean Astin girl, and will never be talked out of that.) We have to go way back, past first best friends April and Jenny, past even Michael Downey, my first grade love, wherever he is now. We have to go all the way back.
What I loved best was my Pooh bear.
I’ve written about my Pooh bear before (quoting Pooh stories for writing inspiration, and bonus bitch-face photo of me at a young age). My Pooh bear is basically my childhood. One of the reasons I can clearly say it was my first love is because it was given to me at my birth. That bear was there in the beginning, yo.
But it wasn’t just a stuffed animal. My Pooh bear became a character in my family, a real presence with attitude and a point of view. She—yes, my Pooh bear is a girl, you got a problem with that?—had things to say about everything, and she was the heroine of every story. My dad made her move around and talk back, and pretty soon she was leading a menagerie of lesser stuffed animals in adventures and mischief. And when she got in trouble, she was not sorry.
I truly believe this is one of the ways I became a writer. I was a shy kid, but I told myself stories all the time, through the Pooh bear and otherwise, and eventually on paper. The other way I became a writer, of course, was that I became a reader early on. Reading is my lifelong true love.
Luckily I also got a Boy to love, as well. Our 11th wedding anniversary is this week. We got married in New York City (on top of the Empire State Building!), which is where the original Pooh stuffed animals—the ones that A.A. Milne moved around and made talk for Christopher Robin—are on display, at the New York Public Library at 42nd and 5th. The same library my husband and I went to the day after our wedding. (Hey, we know what we like. We like books. Also, it was really cold in New York that February.) I wish I’d known Pooh was in the house when we were at the NYPL, but through careful husbanding of my own Pooh bear through the years, she is still in my house now, one of the few artifacts of my childhood I still have, and cherish.
Did you have a favorite childhood object? Do you still have it?
Image of original Winnie the Pooh characters from www.huffingtonpost.com