My name is Emily Wayne and I am a stuffed animal addict. Admitting it is the first step right? (Except I have no intention of ever changing!) I’ve been a lovey lover since way back. I was never much for dolls (with the exception of Barbies), but stuffed animals I LOVED! To quote Tara Lazar, I’ve got a plushthora of them, quite literally in the hundreds. Some were gifts. Some were made for me. Some were made by me (well, with a lot of help from my mom). And some I bought myself. My allowance money pretty much always went towards my “stufftie” habit.
Stuffties spoke to me. Their soft squeezable forms, their comforting presence. My childhood fantasy was to have a giant tower like Scrooge McDuck totally filled with stuffties that I could dive through.
When I was little they all lived in my room, some in piles on the floor and some artfully arranged on furniture, the chosen few on the bed. As I got older I was more selective about who got displayed, and some were relegated to big plastic bags in the attic. But they were all loved, they all had names (most of which I still remember), and I always kept at least one to sleep with. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve slept completely alone sans stufftie. I’ve brought them to slumber parties, on vacations, and even to college. (Actually quite honestly I was probably never sans stufftie even in the daytime well into elementary school, I carried one with me everywhere – especially to scary things like the dentist!)
I can chronicle my childhood through my stuffties. Which ones kept me company for which crucial moments, which ones traveled with me to familiar places, or came home with me from new places – they were always the first thing I bought on field trips or vacations. I was never without them.
And while my stufftie collecting has slowed, as I’ve gotten older, it has never ceased. I still sleep with at least one (currently 2, with another perched on my headboard!), they still hold court in my bedroom, and I still buy new ones when they call out to me (because you’re NEVER too old for a lovey!).
Most of my childhood stuffties are now in storage bins in the cellar (the attic got closed up and the bags got holes) but I still take them out and visit with them on occasion.
There have been lots of them over the years, (seriously, hundreds – I counted them once) but the reigning champion is White Bear (terribly original name I know, he also has a brother, White Bear #2). White Bear was given to me when I was born, and he has been with me ever since. Once upon a time he had a hat and a scarf, he’s lost those over the years. I chewed off all the fabric on his button nose as a baby, and he’s been hugged and loved into lumpiness. His fur isn’t quite so white anymore, and it’s more matted than fluffy. He’s limp and wobbly and his head doesn’t stay up straight when you pick him up. But he’s been a faithful companion for three decades. He’s scared off a fair share of closet or under-the-bed monsters and bad dreams, he’s been soggy from tears and squeezed from joy, and he’s not quite as handsome as he once was, but like Margery Williams wrote:
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
And he is most definitely Real.
Emily Wayne is an illustrator, artist and storyteller based in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts where she lives and works with her family and her menagerie of pets including a dog, two cats, assorted fish and an African Pygmy Hedgehog! She is a kitty lover, a hedgehog enthusiast, obsessed with Alice in Wonderland and may or may not be related to Batman – shh! You can find her work on her website at http://www.emilywayne.com and you can follow her on Facebook at Emily Wayne Illustration http://www.facebook.com/emilywayneillustration, on Twitter as @emilywayneart http://www.twitter.com/emilywayneart, and on Instagram as @emilywayneillustration http://www.instagram.com/emilywayneillustration.
Do you have a childhood lovey story to share? If so, comment on this post or use the contact page on my website. I look forward to hearing from you.