I received Teddy when I was about six years old. He is actually my third main teddy bear. Blue Bear, my first, was mysteriously lost when I was about four—I have a vague dream-like memory of losing him out of a car in a parking lot on a dark and rainy night, although my mother swears this never happened. My second Blue Bear was left behind in a hotel room at Disneyland a year or so later, never to surface despite several desperate calls from my parents to the hotel. My parents tried to assure me that a maid must have taken him home for her child who needed a Blue Bear, and in my grief I tried to believe them. I loved stuffed animals as a child and had so many I could have easily replaced either Blue Bear with one of the dozens in my room. But, it seems none would do. I needed a blue teddy bear, so I got Teddy.

Although my first two bears were named Blue Bear, I’ve always called this one Teddy. Not very original,
I know. My father calls him Ted Roy. I’ve carried Teddy with me my whole life. Anytime we went on vacation, Teddy came, even when I was well into my preteens. I have a terrible memory of being bullied during summer sleep-away camp and my cabin mates pretending to hang him, then throwing him out of the cabin and into the muddy woods.  I hurt for Teddy. It was a miserable week.

Teddy did not chaperone me on overnight trips in high school or on study abroad trips in college (mostly because I was afraid I might lose him, and realized it was not ideal for young woman to sleep with a stuffed animal), but I did take him with me to college, and then abroad to graduate school in England. I never had a very serious boyfriend until I met my now husband in graduate school, so I managed to get away with sleeping with a teddy bear every night until I was in my twenties. It was simply more comfortable to fall asleep hugging him. When my now husband and I became engaged, he kindly expressed that perhaps married women should not sleep with their childhood teddy bears. Since that point, Teddy has primarily resided on a bed-side dresser. Occasionally, however, when either my husband or I are away, the other has admitted to sneaking an evening snuggle with Teddy.

Teddy is not just s stuffed animal; he’s Teddy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a friend, or that I see him as having some sort of life, but I also don’t see him as being the inanimate fabric and synthetic stuffing that he actually is. I can see too much my life’s imprint on him; where the thread on his nose is worn out and two different colors, his glass eyes chipped, his neck stretched out and fur-bear and one ear permanently folded over from the position I held him in while sleeping for over 15 years. I will never be able to get rid of Teddy, and I doubt I will ever be able to store him away. I don’t depend on him like I did when I was little, but something would feel less complete if he weren’t out where I could see him every day.

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