This ratty pillow is one of my oldest possessions. I call him (yes, the pillow is a boy) 小枕頭 or Xiǎo Zhěntou. It translates to “Little Pillow”. Creative, right?
The details about how I got him are a bit fuzzy, but I think he was a gift from my paternal grandmother. For as long as I can remember, Xiǎo Zhěntou has been my go-to source of comfort. We moved a lot growing up and I always had a hard time adjusting to the new environments. Being “the new kid” sucks. This little pillow moved with me from New York to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to West Virginia and then back again to Wisconsin. He came with me to college. When I moved 2.5 hours away from my husband and two dogs for a job, I made sure to bring him with me. He came with me on business trips and kept me company in the endless stream of hotels I stayed in.
One of my favorite and more recent associations with the pillow is how quickly my husband picked up on how much this pillow means to me – one of the first Chinese phrases he learned was “小枕頭”. That escalated to “我的小枕头” or my little pillow… he tried claiming (teasingly) that the pillow was his. Sometimes objects from our past can be embarrassing – I don’t think I’ve shared my attachment to Xiǎo Zhěntou with anyone until my husband came along. After all, what grown woman still clings to a ripped little pillow? But this pillow was there for me growing up. He soaked up my tears when I felt lonely, hurt, or scared. He rested on my stomach or head when I was sick. He’s a small token of something that has provided countless hours of much-needed security to me. I think my love for him is pretty apparent – he is ripped, stained, and held together with a safety pin. I don’t need him as much anymore, but once in a while I still pick him up and hold him tight.