July 31, 2014, 21:00 or thereabouts, in the Med
I have a turtle. He was a gift from Sweetie during the worst part of studying for the bar exam last year. He has traveled more in his short life than I did my first 33 years. His name is Tommy. He has both a Twitter and Instagram account, and he can also be seen on You Tube, strolling the beach in Navarre.
Tommy is the brother to a turtle I saw in the ACH gift shop one day last year when I was taking a break and really needed some stuffed animal comfort. That’s the thing about working in a children’s hospital – there are cool toys and tons of stuffed animals in the gift shop. Anytime I am having a really bad day, a trip over there makes me smile, if even for just a little while.
On that particular day, I’m not even sure what had happened. Last summer was a blur, and it was really stressful both at work and home. We had a family crisis in the middle of the bar exam study period, and we had new bosses at work. It was a rough time, not to even mention the bar exam studying I was doing in addition to my day job.
I went down to the gift shop for something. I went straight to the stuffed you aisle, as is my typical path. There were dogs, frogs, pigs, and other toys, but the one who caught my eye was Tommy’s brother. A sea turtle by Gund – it just doesn’t get much better than that for this long-term Gund fan. Gotta getta Gund, right?
Anyway I hugged him for as long as I though I could get away with without a co-worker reporting me to Social a Work for necessary counseling. I have always loved stuffed animals as far back as I can remember. I was never a “doll” person, save my obsession with my Raggedy Ann. Doll faces, especially the plastic ones, always scared me to death. I hated the Chucky movies as a result. My first year college roommate had an obsession with Chucky, which is probably why we didn’t get along as well as we should have.
I put Tommy’s brother back on the shelf after debating if I should buy him or not. I then bought whatever it was I’d gone down there for and left the store. I told Sweetie about the turtle and never thought much about it after that.
Several weeks later, I was hot and heavy into bar prep. It is akin to two months of colonoscopy prep, honestly. You feel like it’s never ending, you feel totally drained, and you feel completely humiliated. I would not wish it on anyone, really.
I was at home studying one day that I had taken off work. Sweetie came home from work, and there was a box at the front door. He seemed very excited about the box, not even changing out of his work clothes before bringing me the box to open. I opened it, not really knowing what to expect. Inside was my Tommy. I cried. And cried. He was perfect.
Sweetie later told me that he had gone down to the gift shop shortly after I told him about the turtle, with plans to purchase him as a surprise. To his dismay, the turtle was gone. He asked the gift shop manager, a long-time co-worker of his, about the turtle – brand, size, whether they had more, etc. They didn’t have another one, but she told him where he could buy one. So he did. Thus Tommy became part of my life.
Tommy has since gone with us to Tahiti, Florida, California, and Europe, among other places. He is my comfort. He is a stuffed turtle but he knows more about me than most humans ever will. I’m 43. I love a stuffed turtle named Tommy. I won’t apologize for it. I’m sure there is a social worker screaming right now reading this. I laugh at the prospect.