The blog has been a bit quiet lately even though I’ve been having some great adventures, including going to Gallifrey with kink friends and meeting up with lovely people in San Francisco at SF-CP, the first of hopefully many San Francisco spanking parties. I’ve been working on my calligraphy (yes, caligráfica has also been quiet) and have been pretty active on Twitter (I helped with live-tweeting SF-CP until Twitter crashed that night). There’s a reason and it’s not that I’ve been too busy to blog. Rather, it’s been that while we were at GallifreyOne (the Doctor Who convention at LAX) the day after we’d heard the sad news about Alex, my long time companion Bryson Bear vanished from our room. Despite a great many phone calls, meetings with hotel security and housekeeping, he has not been found. A month later, I have to admit he’s unlikely to be returned.
This blog entry, were it a Usenet post, would be labeled COREDUMP. It’ll be my way of letting go and saying goodbye. Those of you who have followed the saga of Bryson on Twitter, well, I’m sorry for dragging it out and give much thanks to the many of you (especially Barrister) who were happy to talk bears with me when I needed it. Your kind thoughts were much appreciated.
Bryson is the oldest of my stuffed animals, though he is only 12 or 13. There’s a reason for this — when I married the first time I was quite young (21) and married someone significantly older than me. Though he was the sort of person who was attracted to teenagers — I had just turned 18 when we met — he was uncomfortable with reminders of our age difference. When we started living together he convinced me to stop sleeping with and eventually to give away my few plushy animals.
My parents, especially my mother, didn’t understand why I had to leave my ex-husband. It wasn’t until later that his drinking problem and abuse were revealed to them. I had been too ashamed to talk about it and didn’t think anyone knew. When I left him in May of 1997, my parents didn’t exactly shun me, but they were distant, so much so that they didn’t make contact with me for six months, even on my 30th birthday (Paul’s gift was the only one I opened that day), though they did talk to me whenever I made the effort to contact them. It was, except for daily calls from Paul, a lonely time.
Unknown to me when she lived with us, my sister had actually seen and heard a great deal so she understood the problems in my marriage. She told my parents what had been going on and why my leaving was a good thing, perhaps the only thing I could do. When I saw my family at Thanksgiving, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, her way of reaching out. Normally I can never think of anything when people ask me that, but at that moment I knew. I told her I wanted a bear. She was surprised, but she told me in retrospect she was touched. I’d never really been the sort of child who was into dolls or animals. This was the first time she remembered me asking for either.
At Christmas I unwrapped the bear. I named him “Bryson” after the author Bill Bryson, whose books Paul had given me for my birthday that past July. It immediately felt like I’d had him all my life. From that night on, I slept with him every night and within a month found that I woke up whenever he fell out of the bed. When Paul came to visit the following May, I introduced them, and, in something of a test, asked him if it bothered him to sleep with me if I kept my bear.
Paul passed of course, so much so that from then on when he’d call me at bedtime he’d ask if Bryson was there too. When he wrote the glossary for the The Treehouse, he made an entry for Bryson so people would, if they liked, understand how important he was to us.
Bryson traveled with me pretty much always. This means he went to England and Scotland a large number of times. He went with me to Chris and sparkle’s wedding, to numerous Shadow Lane (among other) parties, to Oregon where I cared for and said goodbye to my nana and grandpa. I held him and passed him over when bookbabe and I talked about dying, when Paul and I broke up and when we got back together. Bryson was on the bed while I played with Alex and other dear friends. I wept on him, talked out loud to him and, well, just played with him — he was well balanced and with little effort could tumble and adopt an amazing number of yoga poses. Sometimes when Paul spanked me, he’d make sure I had Bryson somewhere within reach. Bryson posed with Shaun under our first Christmas tree, when Paul moved to the US. Bryson was always comforting, with just the right amount of soft squishy-ness.
In fact, I cried on Bryson his last night at the Marriott LAX as Paul and I talked about Alex and how much we’d miss him.
What Happened to Bryson?
The answer to that is we don’t know.
Here’s what we do know:
On Friday morning I woke up early, went for a swim and then came back to the room. After showering, I got back into bed for a bit, played with Bryson and mapped out the day using the Gallifrey program. Finally, I posed him on top of the pillows, next to the still-sleeping Paul, got up and went down to the Marriott LAX lobby to use my computer. Paul met me there and we went out to a late breakfast or early lunch at the local IHoP.
When we came back to our room it had been made up — bed made, bathroom cleaned, floors swept. Bryson, almost always placed in the center of the bed by housekeeping at any hotel we visit, was nowhere to be seen. At first I wasn’t too worried — sometimes in the past he’d been placed in chairs. Then I started searching under the bed, in drawers, in corners and finally in our luggage. Paul started looking too. I even looked in the room’s safe. Within a half an hour it was clear, barring secret panels, there was no way he was in our room. Somehow he must have been swept up by the cleaners.
I made my first call to Marriott housekeeping, asking them to check the laundry. Housekeeping took a description of Bryson but then stated that the sheets hadn’t been changed so there was no way a 16 inch tan bear would have been picked up with the linens. I got off the phone, re-searched the room, again with Paul, and then checked the sheets which sure looked and smelled like fresh sheets. I called again, got connected with lost and found and then re-connected with housekeeping. After a few minutes of discussion, I started getting more and mo
re upset and they decided they should send up security to search the room. Security wasn’t able to find Bryson in our room (I think they assumed we hadn’t searched) and promised the laundry would be checked and they’d get back to us.
At this point, it never occurred to me Bryson was gone for good.
I’m not sure how well Marriott searched housekeeping or the laundry (which is subcontracted off-site) but we’ve been pestering them every few days for the past month. Last weekend someone from housekeeping gave me contact information for someone from the laundry service. They did a detailed search of their lost and found, finding one bear from the weekend in question. Sadly though, when a photo was sent, the bear found was very much not Bryson.
Unable to stop myself, I’ve searched all my luggage over and over, as if he’ll somehow appear. But he hasn’t.
Bryson is gone and I can’t find him.
Despite all this searching, is Bryson sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting to be found? (It doesn’t seem likely at this point, but maybe.) Did he get thrown away by someone who just saw an old be and didn’t realize how important he is? (A terrible thought, and the one that bothers me most.) Did he get taken home and given to someone’s child who’ll love him at least as much as I did? (The best thought of all as he deserves love and appreciation.) Or, being as how this was a Doctor Who convention after all, did he take off in Tara’s TARDIS? He was a bear full of adventure, always up for a trip. Had Bryson met the Doctor, perhaps he wouldn’t have been able to resist, especially if he thought, given that the TARDIS is a time-machine, that I’d never realize he’d gone, if he believed he’d be back before he was missed.
I understand that, I would have said yes too.
This morning I got a phone call from Marriott claims telling me that, though this in no way accepts that they have any responsibility for his loss, they are sending me (well, actually Paul since the room was in his name) a check for $20 as a gesture of goodwill. I bit my tongue, thanked them and restrained my real thoughts. They’re sending the check, though I suspect we won’t cash it, silly though that sounds. And for sure, I’ll never leave another animal on a hotel bed.
Meanwhile, Doug, an expert on teddybears is helping me track information on the sort of GUND bear Bryson is. I’m not sure it would be right, but I think I’m going to try and get another like him. My mom is planning on searching again for just the right bear. And as this last rather bad picture (taken the week before we went to the LAX Marriott) shows, there are plenty of animals in on our bed — Milton (a manatee) came with us to San Francisco. Bryson was my first animal, but isn’t the only one by a long shot.
I’m not going to forget about Bryson. Nor will Paul, though I don’t think much more can be done with either the hotel or laundry. If you find him out there, let us know. We’ll make sure to come get him and bring him home.
Meanwhile, fare thee well, beloved faithful old friend. Come back if and when you can.