As someone who 1) isn't fun and 2) hates talking about himself and 3) doesn't like meeting people, I dread the idea of giving a "fun fact" to introduce myself. But in the cases where I'm forced to give one, I have my go-to answer: I still sleep with my childhood blanket. It's a little embarrassing, but it works. Plus, it generally elicits a collective "awww" from the group.
But my "Blankie" is so much than just something to cover myself with when I sleep.
Over the last 21 years, I've grown and changed so much that sometimes, I have difficulty even recognizing myself. Of course, I'm still the same person, but sometimes I feel as if I'm walking through the world with amnesia, living from moment to moment like Clive Wearing. Looking at the photos of my past, I recognize the experiences but not always the smiling person in them. The narrative of my life seems fragmented, as if at every stage in my life, I am reinvented and reborn anew.
But my blanket is the one constant that remains through it all, even as the world seems to spin more and more out of orbit and everything that I thought I had ever known about the world, and people, and even myself chips away in certainty (i.e. this presidential election). Its familiar smell and touch on my skin comforts me and caresses me at the end of each day of this crazy thing called "life" that I navigate. The beds change and the pillows change, but my blanket never does. This raggedy, worn blanket that my parents brought from Taiwan somehow ties me to my roots and my identity.
When I was 10 and Hurricane Katrina forced my family to evacuate, my mom folded up my blanket and put it on the top shelf of a closet in our small one-story house so it would stay dry if it flooded. As we inched away from the city, I was devastated and kept imagining our house and my blanket being washed away and lost forever. Fortunately, my blanket — and our house — remained intact upon our return.
Around this time, my parents also lightheartedly threatened to throw out this blanket. A couple times, when I couldn't find my blanket, or my mom had taken it to wash without my knowledge, I panicked, thinking it was in that black trash bag sitting on the curb in front of my house. Luckily, they never actually did it.
I know it seems silly that I've slept with the same blanket since I was born, but for some reason, it is my most prized material possession. Perhaps it is a reminder of a simpler time and a simpler me. Or, some part of me is clinging on to the last piece of my childhood and innocence. Or the calendar pages on the pattern of the blanket somehow symbolize its steadfastness throughout time, as if to say the days and months I live are patches stitched into a quilt that is my life.