Yes, the rumors are true. I — a 28 year-old woman with a full-time job, a solo car insurance policy, and not one but two gym memberships — still sleep with my infant baby blanket. Every single night.
Before you make your judgments, keep in mind that many of us keep emotional support objects handy — even if they’re less rudimentary than a baby blanket. Yours might be, say, a notebook you don’t leave home without, or a sweater you can’t get rid of, or maybe a prescription bottle of Klonopin you’ve never actually used. All the same, we can all attest to the ways certain objects help make all the bill-paying and full-time-job-ing a bit more manageable — and frankly, if my cow blankie (yes, she has a name) helps me sleep after a stressful day, how dare you yuck my yum?
In the spirit of honesty, however, I must admit, my cow blankie isn't my only emotional support item. As I've entered old age (my late 20s), what my blanket lacks is the sort of physical, tangible, moment-of-crisis soothing I find myself craving with frequency (think: Excedrin to soothe stress-induced headaches or a beloved oversized sweatshirt when cold sweats arrive). And in recent years, I’ve discovered that one emotional support object — above all others — has remained steadfast: my water bottle.
Now, I haven’t always been a water bottle person. But I can recount, with certainty, the first of my solace-bringing bottles: The year was 2012, and the place was my college campus bookstore in Boulder, Colorado. My parents and I were zooming through the labyrinth of university-branded wares, tossing anything and everything I could possibly need into our basket as I embarked on my first major solo living experience outside of New York. Textbooks? Check. Lanyard? Check. Bumper sticker (for the car I didn't have)? Check, check, check! I thought we had it all when, as we made our way to the register, I spotted a display I had somehow glanced over initially. Was it a mirage? Or was it a stunning plastic rainbow pyramid of 25-ounce university-branded Camelbak water bottles? I grabbed a translucent pink one and tossed it in my cart without thinking twice. I’ll bring it with me to the gym, I thought. Unbeknownst to me, my emotional landscape was about to change forever.
First, let me be clear that no one told me attending college in the middle of Colorado would mean that I was going to be ridiculously thirsty. All the time. As I soon learned, I wasn’t just bringing my water bottle with me to the gym. It came with me to class, to the dining hall, to the Target off campus, to the coffee shop on hungover mornings. Everywhere. I never left the house without it.
Rocky Mountain dehydration wasn’t the only difficult adjustment I faced, though. I also found myself surprised by how hard it was to be away from home. I missed the safety of my childhood bedroom and my cozy Brooklyn apartment. I missed sharing one wall with my parents, and another with my sister — even if I was loath to admit it. Everything was more stressful here: buying groceries, navigating the campus health system while nursing strep infection number three, studying for midterms. And when faced with the debilitating emotional distress of, say, realizing I’d slept through yet another 8 a.m. anthropology class (whoops), there was only one response that worked: I’d take a deep breath, chug some water, clutch that Camelbak to my heart, and email my professor saying I had scurvy again — or, you know, something of the like.
Like cow blankie, my water bottle held some built-in sentimental value — my parents had purchased it for me as they sent me off to college, after all. But unlike my blanket, my water bottle provided legitimate, tactical relief from the daily elements I was at war with — physical and otherwise. And while my of-the-moment water bottles have circulated in and out over time, the security they’ve provided has been relentless. My current Emotional Support Water Bottle? Still a trusty Camelbak (Though these days, I even carry a matching Can Cooler with it for chilling end of day beers at backyard gatherings or after hikes with friends).
In conclusion, when America’s *pop-country sweetheart* said, “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22,” she was wrong. At 22, fresh out of college, I still had much to learn — but I did know, above all else, that water was the solution to all of my problems. Tough conversation with a coworker? Sip water between sobs. Sweaty walk home from the laundromat? Chug some water. Need to cross seven lanes of standstill L.A. traffic in .25 miles? Take a drink of water and go, go, go.
Sure, I’m being hyperbolic. But there really is truth to the fact that almost nothing relieves my anxiety quite like knowing that, wherever I am, I have the ability to pause, take a sip of water, and continue onwards. Long live my beloved mantra that I recite before I leave the house: “keys, phone, wallet, water bottle.”