This week is crazy what with the I’M MOVING IN LESS THAN A WEEK AND THE ONLY THING I’VE PACKED IS A BOX OF BOOKS thing, but as I was falling asleep Saturday night, I realized I have never introduced you to the second most important non-human in my life!!
This is Max.
Upon hearing he is the second most important non-human in my life, most people ask if I’ve had him since I was a baby, and no, Max and I did not have quite the meet-cute as that, but nonetheless he is VERY important to me.
Max and I met later in life. I was a full twenty years old and walking around ikea with the bestie and carrying around a giant stuffed carrot. (The carrot’s name is Stanley). Our eyes (that is my eyes and Max’s eyes) met from across the room and I was instantly smitten. I knew that this stuffed animal was THE stuffed animal that would change my life.
But even with this knowledge I hesitated. I had already committed to buying Stanley and I was on a tight internship budget, but Max was speaking to me in a deep, powerful, soulful way that only true stuffed animal lovers will understand.
As I always do in situations where I am torn, I asked the bestie. She pointed out that I was exactly the kind of girl who needed to own a giant carrot stuffed animal (and she was not wrong), and yet I couldn’t put down this wonderfully soulful dog I had in my hands.
Finally we reached the checkout and I knew I couldn’t give this dog up. I made the plunge and bought both the dog and the carrot. And it was totally worth the $17 I spent.
As sometimes happens, I just couldn’t channel the dog to figure out his name (names are not something you bestow upon a stuffed animal, but something you discover through a deep and spiritual connection). Stanley the Carrot had been easy. In high school my friend Emma and I had written a children’s book about a carrot named Stanley with a Teddy Roosevelt mustache, and Stanley the Carrot was clearly channeling that particular book, but the dog, he was more complex. So once again I turned to the bestie.
“What is his name?”
She said it with certainty, and I knew she was right. (We had just watched Penelope or Across the Universe or both, and Max was clearly drawing off of that experience). So he was christened Max and the rest is history.
Max has since traveled with me from Orlando back to my college in Champaign-Urbana, to my home in the suburbs. We have made countless trips to Orlando and Denver together. He is my pillow when I fly and my comfort when I cry. I held him as a tattoo artist inscribed my favorite bible verse on my wrist, and then I took him to a playground to celebrate. He is my stuffed animal soul mate.
I know this may sound weird to people who think stuffed animals are for children; the ones who don’t see the never ending love and comfort a stuffed animal provides. These are the same people who look into the eyes of a stuffed animal and see a couple of beads or a collection of stitches, instead of a promise to love you unconditionally forever. And it’s ok that they don’t understand, because I don’t understand them.
I turn 24 next week, and so I think it is safe to say that I am a stuffed animal lover for life. I know it’s not for everyone, but if is for me. To me, each of my animals represents different traits and personalities. I love them all for different reasons, but Max stands out. He had withstood a few vastly different seasons in my life. He is a constant in an ever changing world. He understands me on a level most people don’t, because he has seen me at my most venerable. He doesn’t offer advice; he doesn’t provide me with meaning; he can’t help me by talking me through my troubles. But he doesn’t mind when I accidentally throw him off the bed at night, and he stays there patiently until the next night when I say “Wait! Where is Max?!?” Then I rescue him from I under the bed, tuck him under my arm and am reminded that everything will be ok.
What do you think Internet? Am I crazy? Or do you have a special stuffed friend who makes this all make sense? If you do I want to hear about them! I’m off to pack my stuffed animal collection, because after books that is second most important!!
Also: if you are still searching for your stuffed animal soul mate, I HIGHLY recommend ikea. In my humble opinion they have the BEST (and also least expensive) stuffed animals. They’ve not only provide me with Max and Stanley the Carrot but also Sad Panda, Henrietta Two, Ernest T. McGuillicutty and Ollie, not to mention Herbert, Mark and Samuel L. Snowflake, all of whom I have given as gifts and are greatly loved in their new homes.