A Marvel Studios Production
In May of 1997, my parents' friend got me a blanket. It was probably put in a pile with a whole bunch of baby things like onesies and rattles and Israel Bonds. It was mostly white, but had a pink satin trim all the way around. It’s important to note that the trim went all the way around when it was brand new, because over time the trim became more of an accent than a border. The blanket lived on my bed every night. When the last bit of pink trim was hanging by a thread, I placed it in an empty jewelry box and put it in my drawer. It’s still there, a tiny reminder that I used to be small and naive. Now, I am big and naive.
You probably have one of the following childhood items. Either you have it or you had it. Maybe a blanket, maybe a stuffed animal, maybe a beanie baby, maybe an Israel Bond. Whatever it is, it was given to you as a source of warmth and or comfort. As a constant. Maybe you also watched as time tore away some of the delicate fabrics. Maybe your teddy bear lost an eye, maybe your blanket lost some softness. But through it all, you had some sort of cherished comfort object.
Maybe now you can’t use those things for their original intended purpose. On their factory settings. The blanket gifted to a baby can cover their whole body and keep them warm. That same blanket on a 17 year old is just a metaphor for warmth. You’re too big for the blanket now and when you lose your student government election the blanket cannot protect you. It can then act only as a handkerchief.
But isn’t that amazing? When you can use the same thing for more than its original intended purpose? Objects can grow and shift around you and mold to whatever it is they need to do for you. There are so many cool examples of this. Tampons for a nose bleed. Toothpaste to polish jewelry. A math textbook as a paperweight. A book about making friends and influencing people as a paperweight.
Things are supposed to change and meld and iterate as we go. We are barreling through time in the bowling alley of life and there are no bumpers. We need help, we need little things to get us through. In this metaphor actually bumpers would be the helpful thing. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you. One time in 8th grade US History we had a quiz about the Bill of Rights. Our teacher told us that if we were stuck on any question, we should sharpen our pencil. We were confused until we realized there was a Scholastic poster outlining the Bill of Rights hanging above the pencil sharpener. That poster wasn’t meant to be an answer code for a test, but it certainly served that function. And now, I know the Bill by heart. No soldiers in your house unless they’re hot, freedom of speech unless you violate Twitter’s community guidelines, and every baby gets a machine gun.
This is perhaps just a statement about sentimental value. And this is not news to you. You are smart and observant and you have plenty of shit that doesn't serve its initial purpose but you keep it, because it means something to you. Your grandmother’s watch that doesn’t tell time anymore, an empty wine bottle from your 21st birthday dinner, an empty shampoo bottle that you keep in the shower to remind you every time that you still haven’t bought more shampoo.
That Bill of Rights story back there was a bit of a stretch in terms of sentimental value. And tampons aren’t sentimental either. If you save your first tampon in a box like a keepsake the cops come to your house. There’s a line with these things. My first tampon is somewhere, never biodegrading, in a landfill near Lake George New York. It was thrown in the trash after an unsuccessful insertion in the lakeside bunk right before the swim test.
When my parents got divorced, I got a second blanket. My dad wanted me to have a white blanket with pink trim at his house so that I didn’t have to take mine back and forth. The best part of having divorced parents is two blankies, two bedspreads, two closets. The worst part is having to make two separate phone calls to tell your parents that you got fired from your tech sales job. But since they are both your parents, they are both used to your antics. So they both think you’re joking. So you have to make two separate phone calls stating and doubling down on the fact that you were just fired on a Friday afternoon in SoHo. Kendall Jenner is staring down at you from her Calvin Klein billboard and you wish you had your blankie there to dry your tears. If you’ve heard this story before, don’t worry. It’s serving a different purpose here.
So look, you can get a new blanket. You can outgrow your blanket and then use it in new ways. You will always need something to hold on to.