We watched Garden State this weekend. (No, that's not the confession.)
Here's an excerpt:
Sam: This is Tickle.
Andrew: What is Tickle?
Sam: Tickle is my favorite thing in the whole world. It's all that's left of Nanny, my blanket.
Andrew: Tickle is all that remains. Was there a hurricane or something?
Sam: Shut up!
As we watched the above scene, I went over to a chair, picked up a small pillow and started unzipping it. Gaines most likely thought I was going crazy. Inside was a small garment bag stuffed with a ratty, degraded, ancient mass of cotton bunting. My "hole-y blanket," my parents and I used to call it.
Friday night, I connected so strongly with that scene in Garden State that I needed to pull the thing out again. It smelled like stale pillowcases. Slowly rotting away. It's 24 years old, after all. Now, stuffing for a pillow is all that's left of "Blankie." (I was real original in my naming. My black schnauzer "Midnight" still lives with my parents.)
I've had it ever since I can remember-- ever since I was brought home from the hospital at three months old, most likely. I know I used to carry it around with me everywhere, like Linus and his blue patch of security. Once, when I was about three or four, I had an imaginary friend -- a dog. One day, she had invisible puppies, and when they were born in the laundry room hamper I wrapped them up in my "blankie" to keep them warm.
I remember telling my mom when I was little that I would "take my blankie with me to college." Well, I did. Stuffed it into one of my grandmother's pink satin pillowcases. Soon after it arrived in my dorm room, I started keeping it in a garmet bag, as well, to keep it from falling apart any further. Back then, you could still see faint traces of the yellow ducks that were dyed into the satin covering of the blanket. All that's left now, however, are the insides. Rough, starched, grayish instead of white.
During college, I soon realized I needed some way to take it with me that wasn't so...obvious. So I found a small tapestry pillowcase my teacher had given me from our high school trip to France-- part of a reproduction of a woven decoration on a royal wall somewhere, I suppose. Fitting, I thought. Inconspicuous, too: only six by six inches, if that. And so I kept my secret safe. Hidden away in plain sight. From college, it traveled with me to our apartment in Atlanta after we were married.
I don't think I'd ever told Gaines I still had remnants of my security blanket in the apartment. I'd almost forgotten myself. It took Natalie Portman's fictional confession to reveal my own. It wasn't until I tugged it free from it's alias as a decorative pillow that I realized I just didn't need to hide it anymore. I don't need a talisman to keep me safe. But it is nice to pull it out every once in a while to remind me why I carried it around in the first place. To poke my head through the middle, pretend those tattered remains are a princess' robe, and discover I'm the ruler of an enchanted kingdom or perhaps a famous detective with a magic invisibility cloak. Some days, I just want to be that kid again, tottering around the house dragging the remnants of childhood enmeshed in worn satin yellow ducks, full of confidence and free from the worries of life.