I kept my “security blanket” until the age of twenty-one.
There, it’s been publicly announced, though for the first quarter of my life, it was something only those closest to me knew.
Gifted to me at birth, my fingers would glide along the edges of that pastel, crocheted blanket (which eventually became a knotted, over-loved ball of unraveling, grey yarn). Round and round the perimeter my hand would inch, soothing me with every fingered movement.
I wasn’t exactly a Linus. No dragging about of the blanket (though I had a brief stint of stress in second-grade that had me stashing it in a book bag, where I would reach to feel it beneath my school desk). Typically, the blanket stayed tucked beneath my pillow, only pulled out at night before sleep.
As I aged, I wondered at my unwillingness to let go of my attachment, and the ritual of comfort it gave me. And though I thought I ‘should’ release it, I resigned to the fact that I simply never would.
One month after my twenty-first birthday, Life made a decision for me. My blanket was stolen at a Rainbow Gathering on Mt. Shasta by an unscrupulous Sicilian hippie named “Many Rivers”. He abandoned it at a collective burn pile where it smoldered with the discarded tie-dye’s of the vacated campers. Only ashes left, an offering, in my involuntary rite of passage.
When, much later in life, a mala bead necklace was placed in my hands, the familiar tracing of form through fingers came back to me as a long-lost friend. The calm of movement threading through my thumb and middle knuckle.
So then I wondered. Perhaps I was not a maladjusted, insecure child that grew up to be a young woman, so needy and attached that she could not give up her blankie. Maybe – who knows, maybe – there was some innate remembrance from birth. Perhaps a past life. Had I once been a kneeling Catholic, whispering Hail Mary’s in the church of my small Italian village? Or a monk, cross-legged, in a monastery, chanting in the remote hills of Tibet?
These grown-ups – the devout, the saints, the mystics – they have had their beads in hand for comfort.
The children – they have gotten stuffed animals and blankets.
Perhaps there is a common thread.
For me, the feeling of the texture running through my fingers is what set me at ease. My home base. My calm. Some kind of connection.
These tokens we hold. Maybe they all bear an essence of Home. Offer a settling, a security. One not seen, but touched.