So I ordered a stuffed elephant online today. It should come in about a month. I’ve stopped thinking everything I’m doing is weird. It’s important. Also, it’s not really weird.

It’s like your house burned down and you lost everything. Well, there were mementos of various kinds in that house. It wouldn’t be unusual to buy something that resembled one or two of those things, just to remind you of those important events.

Because, of course, the gifts were events. The stuffed elephant was the event of its presentation—tearing the wrapping off, the happy surprise, the hugs and kisses—but also the event of seeing that symbol of being loved and cared about in her room. It’s the event of hugging it close when I slept snuggled against her: I hugged the elephant and she hugged me.

I am not entirely sure, but it seems to me that the elephant was a birthday present. I think it was for my sixth birthday. My father raped me, and Natalya gave me a stuffed elephant. It seems to me also that the elephant was the first thing she ever gave me and that my sixth birthday was the first one I celebrated with her.

It seems to me too that we had a tea party, that she made me wear a plastic tiara, that I didn’t understand anything she said, and it was all entirely wonderful.

So the elephant is a symbol of that event. Buying a symbol of a symbol is not all that strange. People’s houses don’t burn down with everything inside all that often. That’s what makes it unusual. Not the desire to have something like it again. And maybe that I’m doing it almost 30 years after the fact.

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