Friday, February 15, 2008

My valentines teddy bear

When I woke up Thursday morning and stumbled out into the kitchen to get something to drink before I dragged my weary self off for my morning workout, I was greeted by a cute, fluffy red and black teddy bear sitting on the dining room table. (see picture above) Wrapped around said teddy bear’s neck was a beautiful heart-shaped, rose necklace. Valentine’s Day had come!

I receive a bear every Valentine’s day, and this is one of my most treasured gifts every year. Now, I really don’t collect bears or bear stuff anymore. I used to, but people change and evolve over time, and it’s been quite a few years since I’ve wanted bears for the sake of bears.

So why the importance of the V-Day bear?

That is actually quite a big part of my life.

I grew up collecting bears. I loved them. My baby panda bear from when I was first born, Honey Bear given to me by a random pastor, my Care-Bear made my Mum...all of them had stories.

When I was 18, I went through one of the toughest times of my life. My whole life had been spent moving. I counted it once, and I have moved 21 times in 26 years. That's actually very little compared to my brother who went to boarding school. But, regardless, moving has always been a regular activity. I found myself driving around neighbourhoods the other day looking at all the For Sale signs and scouring the internet for local houses for sale. Then I realized what I was doing and was trying to figure out why. The answer hit me in a rather duh moment. We have now lived in our current house for a little over three years. That's the longest I have lived in any one place in my entire life (give or take a few months). No wonder the traveling part of my brain is screaming at me to me move!

Any ways, back to being 18. This move was one of the hardest I was going to make. I moved to Thailand when I was three, and for all intents and purposes, Thailand is my home. It's the country of my childhood, and I love it. However, I was graduating high school. I had to go get a college degree, I had to move back to America. And I didn't know for how long. In the past, when we had come back to America every four or five years for furlough, it was for one year, and then we went home again. Never had I come to live for an unspecified amount of time in this country. I was having to sort through my stuff knowing that this time I couldn't just pack stuff away in boxes and come back and find it in a year. This time, if it got left behind, it was permenant.

Then came the bear fight. Like I said, I had a bear collection - each one loved with a name and history all of it's own. I was trying to put stuff into boxes, and my dearest of mothers came into my room and told me that I didn't need to take all my bears. They were just taking up unnecessary room in the shipment. I really should just pick out a few and leave the rest behind, give them away, whatever. I never had a lot of fights, per say, with my parents. This was one of those times when I lost my head, screamed at them, and flung myself into my room in tears. I couldn't possibly leave my bears behind. What was she thinking?!

Several years later, I understand completely what she was thinking. However, fortunately, I have great parents, and she understands (and actually explained to me) what I was thinking! I'm a TCK - Third culture kid. A person who has been born in one culture, raised in a second culture, and has come up with my own third culture as a combination of all of the above. Technically, I'm an FTK - born to parents of two distinct cultures, raised in a third culture, and thus developing m own Fourth culture. Stability in my immediate family, oh yes, I always had that. Stability in my life? No. Like I said, I've moved my whole life. Friends have come and gone. Schools have come and gone. Change is the middle name of most TCKs.

And, a common reaction for a lot of TCKS is to cling to something as an object of stability in their lives. For me, that was my bears. They had always been with me. At least one of them went on every trip I took. Even when we moved from one country to the other and some had been left behind, I was always able to go back to them. So my mother asking me to leave them more or less permenantly, give them away, was - to my crazy 18 year old mind - her taking away my pillars of stability in my life. And I couldn't handle that.

I still have my pile of bears. However, as I said earlier, I don't collect them any more. Except for my Valentine bear. Chris gave me a bear our very first Valentine together. And he has given me one every year since then, even though he knows I don't really collect "bear stuff" any more. But that Valentine bear is the sweetest symbol of stability for me. Not that the bears themselves form a stable pillar for me, but my husband does. He didn't know the history behind the bears until a few years into our marriage. But I think I've just transferred my picture of what those bears mean to me into the ones he gives me every year.

And truthfully, eight years later after my move to the USA (bleagh, have I really lived here that long?!), I'm starting to look at some of my old bears (not my Valentine's bears), and thinking maybe it's time to put some of them away. I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet, and I don't know if I ever will. But the thought has lingered occasionally. I suppose that's a sign of growing up and finding my own life in a new country.

But for now, I will look forward to my yearly Valentine's bear and all it means to me.


Amber said...

Much cuter than the green bay bear! Name?

Ouph said...

His name is Rufio. Somehow the red/black thing just reminded me of Rufio in Hook!

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