“You need a new blanket!”
I’ve heard this more than a few times in my life. Mostly in my head. Mostly when I look at the ink stains, the worn marks, the hand sewn tears or the little knots in the corners of the material so the stuffing doesn’t fall out and think, “Jeez, Vennie, time for a new blanket already, don’tcha think?”
I wear blankets out. I keep them for years. They become a part of me, and I don’t give a shit about all those little dust mite stories. I have slept on dusty military cots in tents and old mattresses on wooden floors. A few little dust mites don’t scare me.
Sometimes I feel awkward inside of strange sheets, like hotel rooms or someone else’s bed. There’s the crisp leftovers of a thousand strangers creeping the cottony grid, and I need time to infuse my own energy into them. If I travel, there’s at least a little pillow and a blanket of my own in my suitcase. A small one, something familiar that I choose. Something I can curl up and drift into.
For years I kept a quilt my mother made when we lived in the cult. It was hand sewn from dozens of squares cut intricately out of items not deemed worthy enough to make it into the clothing bank. Old shirts and skirts, torn pillow cases and remnants of curtains, bits of material on old bolts and maybe even a few baby blankets taken from children who would no longer be allowed to comfort themselves.
I don’t know what happened to that blanket. I think it got lost somewhere in my teenage years. It carried the energy of my tears and nights hiding beneath it to escape into books and writing, using a flashlight in short spurts because batteries had to last forever.
When I was a baby, I had my own blanket with a silk lining. I can’t say I can close my eyes and see my blanket, but my hands can feel the edges like it was yesterday. My tongue can recall the wrinkled skin of my thumb resting on the roof of my mouth. Self soothing seemed to start from the beginning. I can feel it’s fleece and the tiny threaded stitches holding the silk edging on.
I don’t remember my baby blanket being taken from me, if it was packed into the boxes of our life ripped up by the cult and distributed among strangers or burned in the bonfire with the rest of the precious parts of us they decided were no longer of any use. I don’t know if I cried for it that first night sleeping away from my mother.
So, no, I don’t need to get a new blanket. Not until I decide that I want one because I get to choose now. I will keep loving blankets owned by those who give them away, with their stains and mixed together energy, fears and nights of huddling beneath them. I can wrap them around my body and breathe in the dreams of the humans who curled inside of them before me. I can continue to wash them to shreds and still keep them folded and waiting on my bed.
They tell stories, even imagined ones, nights watching movies and children hiding their heads beneath them in the hopes it would block out the sounds of their parents screaming at each another. They pass on the rose scented mist of love making and swaddled babies laying beneath them on a mother’s bare chest.
These blankets hold heart beats that become a part of me forever.