To be loved is to be changed

Kitty, Shelby Neeleys Beanie Baby, has been well loved.
Kitty, Shelby Neeley’s Beanie Baby, has been well loved.
Shelby Neeley

With Beanie Babies, you often see them preserved and left untouched- some collectors even put plastic cases over the infamous heart tag. The Beanie Baby craze of the ‘90s  encouraged the rapid growth of the company. Eventually, the company began to produce larger 9 inch versions of the small stuffed animals. Specifically, a nine inch version of the black and white cat Zip. 

My mother received one of these for her birthday, put it somewhere, and then forgot about it until she had kids–specifically, on the lightbulb she used as a lamp. 

She leaned the large Beanie Baby against it, propping the chin of the cat over the lightbulb, and left it there for years with the light pressed against plastic fur the entire time.

By the time my mother picked the cat back up, the light had traced a strange scar onto the plushie. It was neon red and wandered around the cat’s neck in a figure eight, where the fur had slowly melted into a different texture. 

My mother first gave it to my older sister Maggie, who I stole it from at the tender age of 3. 

I was obsessed with the cat growing up. It was named Kitty, because I was not a very creative 3 year old. 

Kitty was an incredibly unique stuffed animal. The red scar was so distinct that I’m sure that it’s at least part of my love for the color red. 

I put that stuffed animal through a lot. I covered the eyes with a glue stick in an attempt to ‘polish’ them, I trimmed the fur and whiskers to give it a ‘haircut,’ and I chewed on the tail so often that a hole formed.

I loved my kitty so much that we would only get tuxedo (black and white) cats for my entire childhood. 

Eventually I lost my kitty at my grandmother’s house. I’m told the tantrum I threw was the worst I ever had. I received a new stuffed kitty, but it was so incredibly different that my parents were forced to actually find the old one. Then I had two kitties. Yes, they were both named Kitty. I still was not good at names. 

I loved them both equally, but one had obviously had some rougher love. With the two side by side, it was so overwhelmingly obvious. The newer one’s fur was shiny and soft, plush beneath little child fingers, while the older one was still soft but worn. The fur was melted in places, torn out in others, vaguely dirty in others. 

I loved that kitty, and you could say that I ruined it. 

There is a lesson here. Love hard. Have respect for items, but do not be afraid to actually use them. Burn the candles you buy instead of waiting for the perfect day. Use the perfumes. Eat your favorite foods. Have no fear of some distant change that haunts you, for it is immediately inevitable. There is no possibility of things remaining the same. Do not be afraid to be the one to change them. To be loved is to be condemned to the unflinching change of our reality- what a terribly wonderful thing. 

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