I wasn't the teddy bear kind of girl.
I used to sleep with a hippo.
The hippo, named Hippo (I was so creative as a child, wasn't I?), appeared in my life as a gift about the time I turned 8 years old. I don't know why I felt an immediate and intense bond with this small, purple stuffed animal; but I did.
I proudly slept with this animal as I grew up, toting him with me wherever I went: to sleepovers and summer camps, senior high school retreats and college dorm rooms. He's even traveled internationally with me - on several occasions, in fact (lucky little hippo).
And then I got married; and I respectfully placed him on the night table on my side of the bed. He was my guard-hippo; and only every now and then would I indulge in a hippo-snuggle, mostly if I was taking a nap solo or if my husband was gone for the weekend.
During my separation, I kept Hippo close (he's my family after all), but I wouldn't sleep-snuggle with him. There was something desperately sad and lonely in the act of embracing a stuffed animal after I had chosen a man to embrace in bed for the rest of my life and then went back on that promise.
Even now, divorce settled and water under the bridge, Hippo stands guard more than he provides comfort. Just because it doesn't feel right anymore. I am sure he understands, old friends always do. But it makes me sad.