When I was little, I hated those squat, rainbow-hued My Little Pony toys. I was a huge fan of horses (yeah, what twelve-year-old girl isn’t?) and I had a collection of sixty-odd Breyer horses. You know those horses–prancing Morgans, preening Tennessee Walkers and galloping Arabians, each perfectly detailed and accurate down to the grooves in its hooves. I used to play with them by the hour, using Barbie as an accessory. In most little girls’ worlds Barbie was the main character and the horses would have been pets. But not me. Barbs was second-string, there to advance the plot, if at all. Most of the time my horses had human-free adventures. My pretend Mustang herd galloped across the open plain (the green shag carpeting of my bedroom floor), made friendships, were hunted, trapped and escaped back to freedom. And there was no place in that scenario for short-legged pink ponies with purple hair and stars on their asses. As much as I enjoyed fantasy, it had no place among my “reality.”
And yet that kid eventually grew up into the chick who digs blending modern life with the fantastical. I’m not sure how or when it happened. Maybe it had something to do with overdosing on too many sword and sorcery tales. Quite possibly Joss Whedon had a significant hand in the deal. Then again, maybe it was growing up to discover the enticing mysteries of adulthood were nothing more than chains which would tether me to a daily reality that was far less than mythic. In the midst of work, finances, housecleaning and insipid routines, I think I realized everyday life lacked the mystical quality my childhood held. Toadstools were only a sign of a fungus in my lawn, rainbows meant that it had finally stopped raining, and lightening bugs were just insects trying to get their freak on. And that loss of the “what-if” portion of my imagination must have had an impact, because somewhere in my mid-twenties I ditched the mainstream novels I had been planning and went genre.
While the mundane details of my daily life still exist on a grand scale, I now have an alter-existence where the strange, wondrous and mystical happens in the modern world. It’s like gaining back a lost bit of my childhood, a forgotten piece of me.
My horse collection is in my niece’s possession, now. But, I can still see every one of my old friends in my mind. And the next time I let the herd roam free, you can bet there’ll be some pink, yellow, and blue rumps mixed in with the rest.