Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Sentiment of Snot

Posted on July 8, 2009 - Filed Under self reflect

While working tenaciously on a series of PowerPoints for the “New and Improved College Success Class” with one of the worst books (arriving in my hands with NO Instructor support what-so-ever!) I was pleased to find my “Facebook Online Chat” pop up with a “What’s Up?” from my sister Monica, allowing me a new distraction. Any opportunity to chat, talk, connect, or pontificate with Monica is always on my agenda.

Granted, lots has been “up” in my life (and down, and over, and upside down and confusing) and it persists that “what’s up” is a tough question to answer. “What’s Up” has been keeping me from blogging, as the critical topics are all too private to “throw up” for the world to contemplate. Yet as we chatted, topics moved around nicely until Monica mentioned a surprise in the mail, and I threatened, if she didn’t clue me in, to sit outside the mailbox like Snoopy to await the package. Snoopy turned into the Charles M. Schultz museum near her upcoming new home, and I suddenly realized I hadn’t told her about a recent surprise my MHA (metal head Adonis) and son had conceived for me.

Last week, JP and MHA arrived sheepishly in the office, looking pleased with themselves, arms behind their backs, touting a gift they had worked hard on. I had come home the week prior to find JP sitting at the table pulling apart pieces of fluff, his eyes wide as he tried to hide the fact that this was out of the ordinary. So, obviously, the fluff had something to do with me and surprises. I wondered whether or not I wanted to know, as both of them looked half worried and nervous, yet excited to see my reaction. I swung around in my office chair to provide them with full attention while my MHA whipped out my stuffed Snoopy – looking firm and clean… and my brain sort of hiccuped as it tried to make meaning of what I was seeing. Mind you, in order for my brain to process anything it needs to make meaning of it… was that mine?

Lets step back a few dozen years. My childhood clearly holds an earmark on the term “Snoopy.” He was, undoubtedly, my superhero. I read every book with the peanuts team, drew Snoopy endlessly, and related to the character as the un-noticed creative, the quietly smart, the dreamer, the storyteller, the caretaker and teacher, the character that wasn’t just a dog, yet endured the label.

In 4th grade, after a traumatic experience getting my tonsils removed, my mother arrived with the gift of all gifts. She came bearing a beautiful white Snoopy, stuffed and soft, large enough to cuddle, and I was soothed as he watched over me in bed that scary night in the hospital. From that day forward, he was real, he became my container; he bore years of tears and snot. He tolerated being smothered, and endured endless conversations about my life, my trauma, my fears, my hopes, my pain. He listened, he comforted, and with each day gathered the evidence of my growth and history in the stains, blemishes, and smudges. He was a diary of my resilience, my strength, my ability to transform, and my creativity. He carried the sentiment of surviving childhood with snot marks.

So what did I think about this transformation? Cleared of all that dirty history?

As we chatted (via Facebook) I remembered the time my mother washed my NeNe (pronounced neh neh), this pink stuffed baby, laid out in a child pose, with a plastic sleeping face. I am sure it was before Monica was born, and I must have been three or four. That was like my Binky – my NeNe. Oh GOD, I refused to take that thing back. It didn’t feel the same, or smell the same, and I cried and cried. My mother, desperate to make it better, went out and bought a new one for me… and that didn’t work for me at all. That was the end of NeNe.

Monica also reminded me of how upset I had been when my mother threw Snoopy in the washer and he came out with limp arms and legs. She couldn’t recall what he had looked like before the “washer incident” but it obviously made an impression on her. How I hated when my mother washed things that were REAL to me. Regardless, I dragged him around, limp but still open and unconditional in his regard for the tapestry I wove each night as I held us together with the energy of my day.

Snoopy has sat in the corner for years now, watching us work in the office from high above, collecting dust and daily floating DNA and hairs. Prior to that he kept himself in the cedar chest, or in a large bin with other items of sentimental value to me. Occasionally I would pull him down and gaze at the layers of history, recalling how I would hold him in my lap and tell him all the secrets that a child holds, all the feelings unspoken in the world. All those memories padded between layers of cotton and faux fur. Washing him NEVER came to mind. Something about all those dirty little marks was nostalgic.

Yet here, my MHA, with every loving ounce of intention, recognized that buying me a Snoopy wouldn’t impress me, and instead restored this creature, literally to such a pristine state I didn’t recognize him. He and JP carefully deconstructed his form, re-fluffed his aged cotton stuffing, and then carefully restitched his seams.

As I held Snoopy in my hands I struggled to sort out the little kid in me from the grown up. Then, I saw those scratched up eyes and scuffed up nose and knew just what it was I held. My container, clean and soft, just as unconditional in nature as he had always been. That container, despite my “being a grown up,” was still available to me. The sentimental symbols of snot and history still contained there in the energy of his fleecy and malleable form. He felt good in my lap, he smelled wonderful, and his little hands and feet still bore the wear and tear of my childhood hands that squeezed and rubbed him with every secret he has heard.

Despite a sliver of embarrassment to even write this, I admittedly feel relief that he’s available. He really hasn’t seen the end of the snot and tears, and he looks quite ready for new layers of my life to permeate his being. I carefully carried him upstairs to the bedroom and perched him on my artist corner shelves. It is there he sits now, keeping an eye on me at night while I continue to sort through new phases of my life, as scary as they look at times.

Yes, the sentiment of snot and tears…. all wrapped into a re-fluffed creature, my container of all things sorrowful and splendid.


One Response to “Sentiment of Snot”

  1. Catherine on July 14th, 2009 3:03 pm

    I read your Snoopy blog entry and I couldn't find the words to express how beautifully written it was, how tender, how loving, how accepting with grace it was. Made me love you all the more.