This is Brownie Bear. When I was 5 years old, my brother and I were in the bath. From what I’ve been told, my parents rushed into the bathroom, put towels on us, and ran us out of the house. There was no time to get clothes. According to the fireman, a candle had been too close to a curtain, whose flame quickly spread to the rest of the house. The only faint memory I have of the entire incident was running through the house. I had had a birthday recently, and as my dad was running me out of the house when we ran passed all my new and shiny toys, some of which that were still in the box. Besides the one doll I had left in my dad’s car (which he had previously told me to clean up but I forgot), those toys shared the same fate as our house. We were in the driveway watching our house be engulfed, as the neighbors began filling the surrounding street. In the case of my brother and I, we were young, wet, and in towels, until our neighbor gave us men’s 2X shirts to wear. Eventually the police and firemen arrived, and ushered people away as they went one-on-one with the beast that had claimed our home. Once everything was said and done, we were left shivering and staring at the rubble. Before the firefighters left, they gave me a stuffed bear to try and comfort me. Due to my age, color of the toy, and lack of literary imagination, I named him Brownie Bear.
After that fateful day, Brownie Bear acted as my security blanket any time I was in distress. When we lived with my grandma, and then in an apartment until my dad rebuilt our house. When eventually my parents got divorced, that bear was always in my arms helping me coupe with things I couldn’t understand. Years later, when I was at music camp in Twin Falls for a week, I grew incredibly home sick. The combination of years of wear and tear and the anxiety I was feeling at the time, led to the stitching in his ear to loosen, exposing his stuffing. I was terrified I had broken him, but when I got back home after camp, my great grandma stitched up his ear for me. He looked just like new. She passed on a few years later, but thankfully I always feel the love she stitched into his ear, when she made the one thing that can forever bring me comfort, whole again.
Since then, Brownie Bear has been with me, on every journey I have made that is longer than a few days. As I was getting ready to embark on this magnificent journey to Ecuador, I was planning on not taking him along for the ride. I thought that with everything I needed, there would be no room for him in my luggage, and frankly that I was too old to bring my stuffed animal everywhere I went. The month that led up to leaving, I started packing everything up, and putting everything I loved into boxes. A few days before I left, I put Brownie Bear into a box with all my blankets, and tightly taped it shut. I had no qualms about not taking him until the day we were leaving Boise. I woke up with so much anxiety about not taking him, that the first thing I did when I got out of bed, was rearrange my suitcase, get down the box, unpack everything, and through sheer force of will, get Brownie Bear to fit in my suitcase. It was odd, because prior to that, I had never gotten anxious about my trip, but for some reason, the thought of not having a stuffed animal seemed utterly unbearable.
Someone asked me, “Well what are you going to do if something happens to him?” All I could think about was how his first flaw was fixed with so much love, and that if anything were to happen to him, I, or someone from my family I will live with in Ecuador, could stitch him up, and he would have new memories, and a whole new kind of comfort associated with him. Even if I will be completely on my own, in a completely alien environment, with no familiar support system, I will still have a small piece of home wherever I go. Plus I’m incredibly excited to take aesthetic pictures of my teddy bear in Ecuador, and hopefully after that all around the world.