Looking at the things I carry with me on a day-to-day basis, most of them contain stickers of one variety or another. My insulin kit is adorned with massive square stickers of both Ironman and The Hulk by my nephew after he commented on how boring the metal-framed case was. He was right, of course, but I had never tried to make diabetes seem a particularly glorious or grand adventure, but in the way of little boys he was able to add a small amount flair to make it a little more susceptible to the idea.
Additionally, I have my notebook, a worn, ringed, and wrinkled thing I carry with me everywhere I go that has been invaded by monkeys wielding bananas like telephones after I made the mistake of going to the bathroom while at lunch with my adoptive mother.
I don’t dislike any of them. They are little pieces of their affection, one an apparent protection charm, the other a not so subtle reminder that writing can only really happen when you stop taking it so seriously. They are reminders of their care and affection.
I remember back when I was six or seven and how much I loved stickers. I think everyone goes through that at some point. They are like bumper stickers, but without the implied limitation of being restricted to the ass-end of a car. At least in theory. I would beg my parents for the biggest most varied collections of stickers that Toys R’ Us and, at least once, Sam’s Club had to offer. I even remember trying to pull off the glossy star shaped stickers from my school work and trying to attach the often mutilated remains onto stray pieces of wax paper so they could be reused later.
But I never did.
Even with tens, hundreds of thousands of sticker in often repeating collections I could never bring myself to the life-altering commitment of actually placing one on something of mine. I would give them out to classmates, friends, people who seem to suffer none of my hesitation in where and why the stickers ended up where they did, but even watching them, telling myself that was the right way, the reasons stickers existed in the first place, I just couldn’t.
What if this wasn’t the right place for it? What if this planned collage of stars and power ranger action poses didn’t work the way I wanted it to? Once placed, trying to remove one was like trying to up root a damn oak tree without taking any of the dirt with you. As soon as they fell to the paper, door, wall, preferred electronic device, that was it. There it would stay, a reflection of my own clumsy creativity for the world to see.
“Look at the boy with the slightly lopsided ninja turtle on his notebook!”
“Did you see that slightly off kilter Michael Jordan sticker hanging on his bedroom door? What kind of idiot can’t manage to correctly put a sticker on their door?”
It’s too much. Too much pressure. How am I supposed to know where the right place, the right time for a sticker? I am no prophet, how can I commit to something as indelible as a sticker with any sort of confidence? You can’t. To do so shows either a lack of proper foresight or madness.
And such was the life lived by me and by proxy the army of stickers I had holed away in my room. They would be shuffled, moved, examined, misplaced, or even forgotten. Sometimes through rummaging apathy they would be tossed to the floor, stepped on and in the process find themselves half-stuck to carpets, socked feet and the backs of t-shirts until entire stacks and rolls had to be thrown away (because what use is a slightly folded sticker?).
Thinking about it, I was probably doing the whole ‘sticker’ thing wrong. I do a lot of things wrong. It’s in my nature and in the same vein that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take; you regret none of the stickers you don’t place. Still, looking at the one’s I carry with me now I find myself pleasantly surprised and no less grateful that people are capable and willing to make the commitment that I could not.