A few years ago, when my nieces (the THINGS) and I came out to San Antonio to visit my mom, the three of us went to the zoo. The two of them are like me in a lot of ways and one of those ways is loving places like the zoo and museums. We had so much fun while we were there - saw lots of animals, took lots of pictures and shared some popcorn.
Before we left, we went to the gift shop. Now, anyone who is a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or whatever will completely understand this - before we went in the door I told them, very firmly, that we were NOT going to leave that building with a stuffed animal because we had PLENTY so they shouldn't even ask.
We'll just say - I'm a sap.
But hear me out ...
We went in and walked around the whole place, seeing everything that they had. We decided, on that first trip around, that we would definitely be getting either ball caps or visors (we settled on visors - the cool ones that are like ball caps, NOT those plastic things - matching but each one was a different shade of pink) and grabbed a couple of postcards.
I noticed when we first walked in a couple of shelves FULL of plastic figures of animals - at least a hundred different kinds. We decided that we would each pick 3 - no matchings because we would share. 3 ... just didn't work. Neither did 4 ... 5 ... or 6. There were so many different cool choices that even I couldn't pick just a few.
Idgie (the younger of the two, by 30 seconds) walked over to a shelf of animals and started talking to this one particular flamingo. I tried to ignore her - I mean, I knew what she was doing - so I kinda watched her from the corner of my eye. Not really whispering, she said, "You are so beautiful. What? Well, I love you too. I know, I know - I would love to take you home with me, but..." (she paused and looked over at me) "...SHE said no more stuffed animals." She picked it up, totally snuggled it ... then half walked, half shuffled back over to where I was standing, started looking at figures on the shelves again and let out the biggest sigh I had ever heard her do.
I looked at her, looked at Ris (the older of the two, by 30 seconds), then looked back at Idgie right as she pulled one of those sniffle things, you know, when they want you to know that they're very upset about something without saying anything ... and next thing I know, Ris is putting her arm around her to comfort her.
I told you ... TOTAL sap.
With a sigh of my own, I told them that they could pick ONE each - that was it, no more - and I didn't care how much they sniffled or sighed.
As I walked behind them, I knew who Idgie was going for, but I wasn't sure about what Ris would pick. Scanning the shelf myself, I saw the ring-tail lemur and thought If no one picks that, it's mine. Ris went right for it and nuzzled her nose to it. (Smart kid.)
And that is how Abry and Fluta came to be part of the family.
We've had tons of stuffed animals in our house since they were born, but nothing was like these two. By the time we got back to mom's townhome, they had names, plus their own voices, personalities and attitudes. They were the most important things to these girls - and, funny enough, they became very important to me and my sister as well.
Abry is SOMETHING else. She's creative, fun and entertaining. But she's bossy and super honest - and boy is she SMART.
Fluta is funny, spontaneous, SMART and very goofy. She's Idgie's way of being really annoying without getting into trouble. (We're constantly going "Fluta!")
The adventures - real and made up - that we went on ARE some of the best memories of my life.
Most of the time, I was only needed for picture taking (and because they needed an audience). They came up with the stuff on their own. I would tell people and show them pictures and they would laugh. Eventually I created a Facebook fan page for them - and they had over 100 fans, people who couldn't wait to see what the next adventure (and story) would be.
When I first moved here to San Antonio (I originally came out for a visit, but decided, after a few weeks, to stay), people back home would ask me what I was up to. I would half-joke about writing a book - and they would all ask me if it was about Abry and Fluta.
I thought the idea was silly - who would want to read about the adventures of a ring-tail lemur and flamingo? - played around with some other ideas - worked on the novel I'm writing - but my thoughts always lead me back to the idea of writing stories about them.
I dream about storylines, daydream too ... and after going to the zoo a few weeks ago and coming home with an Abry and Fluta of my own, I feel the need to write their stories.
Here's hoping that everyone who reads my stories LOVES them as much as my family does, as much as I do. :)