What Poo-sheen taught me about joy

When I was a kid, I used to talk to my stuff ed animals. Sometimes they talked back, but only when my dad was around. Among them, Pusheen was closest to my heart. Pusheen, gifted to me when I was 7, was a cat who claimed to be an intergalactic space alien with an insatiable appetite. She would often ask to eat my dad’s food, or even my dad himself. I always said no, gently explaining that my father was “the source of our income,” and thus could not be devoured. When denied, she would throw a massive tantrum and wiggle her tiny paws before falling asleep, exhausted.

I have a lot of fond memories of Pusheen. When I was around 9, I wanted a black face mask so I could look like a ninja. I begged my mother for a $10 winter-weather face mask from Amazon. As it was the summer, my mother was reluctant. After a little bit of grumbling, she gave in. The mask was quickly discarded due to its lack of ninja-ness, and, soon after, Pusheen repurposed it as a diaper. Confused, I asked for my mask back. However, my cat said no, insisting that “it kept her butt moist.”

As my love for Pusheen grew, so did my collection of stuffed Pusheens. Chip Pusheen and Cookie Pusheen were, to put it mildly, jerks. For whatever reason, holding half-eaten snacks gave them a superiority complex. Despite their attitude, Pusheen looked up to them like older siblings. Unfortunately, Chip Pusheen and Cookie Pusheen were the kind of older siblings that liked to tell their younger sibling to drink the “wine” that they made by fermenting grapes in the boiling backseat of the car—like my dad’s sister did to him. So, when they told Pusheen that if she tried hard enough the contents of her diaper would turn into potato chips, she absolutely believed them.

But, despite her best efforts, Pusheen’s poop never turned into potato chips, and I slowly lost interest in talking to my stuff ed animals. Pusheen still sat proudly at the head of my bed, but she never came with me to meals or movies anymore. She did come on airplane trips, but that was because she made a fantastic travel pillow.

When freshman year came around, she didn’t even cross my mind as I packed for Bivouac. I was not looking forward to Biv. I had never gone camping before, and being away from home was daunting. I was distracted by all the hijinks that Bivouac brought—snorting lemonade powder, squad mates getting lost during Map & Compass, one squad “accidentally” fl ooding—but I still was terribly homesick. I remember feeling a little dumb writing to my parents every day. The letters my parents sent me helped a little. I also received some from Pusheen. (She often asked me when I would fi nd a job with a stable income, so that she
could eat my father).

Days passed sluggishly, digging latrines, building a-frames, and cooking food. One day, I was sent a package and forced to sing “Sweet Caroline” with a few other poor souls. The package was from Pusheen. Inside of the package was a box, and inside of that box were loose potato chips! Pusheen’s poop had fi nally turned into potato chips! Part of me wanted to laugh, part of me wanted to cry with relief, but it was dark and I was tired, so I settled for cozying up in my sleeping bag with a smile on my face. It was the first time I fell asleep at Bivouac without missing home. It was the fi rst time I saw Bivouac as an adventure, through the lens of a child. I didn’t need to let go of my childhood memories. In fact, they made me stronger.

As we get older, the pressure to move on from our childhood grows. Hang up the ninja mask at 9 years old, stop talking to your stuffies at 12, don’t cry when you’re homesick at 15. We’re forced to lock away the chaotic curiosity of our childhood in favor of the dull discipline of high school. Although there are times for maturity, we should be allowed to embrace our youth. So, every time I eat a chip, my mind wanders to its potentially dubious origins. Every time, it brings a smile to my face.

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