Today I received a reply to my desire to find a child who would delight in my Breyer horse collection. It was from a Non Profit called the Horse Boy Foundation. The Horse Boy foundation is a foundation dedicated to using horses to assist autistic children and people on the autism spectrum with their unique challenges. One of the people that runs the foundation asked me if I’d be willing to donate my extensive collection to the foundation itself so that the children who come to the center can play with them and use them to learn arithmetic. She told me that if a child develops a special attachment with one of the model horses, she will let them have the horse permanently. And so I felt that this ‘home’ was right for the model horses I have been collecting all throughout my life.
In order to pack them for shipping, I unpacked them from the boxes that had been their home since I was 19 years old. It is unbelievable how an item from the past can bring the past to life in half a second. And when the item from the past, is an item you were attached to, it revives the past with so much vigor that the present moment begins to spin. I picked them out of the boxes one by one. I was flooded with the feeling of memories associated with each and every one of them. I recalled the names I had given them and the circumstances that had brought each one to me. Horses were the reason that I survived my childhood. Horses were my place to belong. When I couldn’t be outside riding them, I would imagine that I was one of them. I used to run around on four legs every day. I’d set up elaborate jump courses for myself out of chairs and sticks and boxes. And because the only friend I had in childhood only saw me once or twice a year, I personified my model horses. I became intimately involved with their personalities and their unique abilities and likes and dislikes. I used them to cope. Attachment objects are difficult to part with for anyone. But when someone uses an attachment object to cope with abuse, parting with that object that helped you survive is a whole other ball game. On an emotional level, it’s a kin to the scene in the movie Castaway where Tom Hanks loses Wilson (the volley ball).
Peanuts was my favorite model horse. Even though I treasured all of my model horses, Peanuts was the one that captured my heart. I got him when I was 8 years old as an offered reward for having stopped my habit of sucking my thumb. I chose him because he looked exactly like the horse that I had been taking riding lessons on every week. I named him after the horse as well. Peanuts the model, like peanuts the horse, was a beautiful bay color with black legs and an abnormally long back. He had a relaxed demeanor about him. He looked gentle. And now, nearly 21 years after I got him, the paint is scuffed in the areas that I used to hold him.
After the boxes were sent away, I closed my eyes and I imagined bringing those boxes of horses to the safe space in my mind where I keep all the inner children that I have rescued out of memories over the years. I imagined opening up the boxes and watching them run over with delight to pick through for their favorite ones. I imagined the children lining them up on the shelving in the room like I used to do and playing with them one by one. I gave peanuts to the six year old me. The silent one, whose world was shattered.
In this process, I am reminded that I am not my life. I am the way my life unfolds. I am the way the flowers bloom and wither. I am the way the seasons come and go. And I am the way that the spring always finds a way to turn even the coldest, grayest winter into fields of green and clouds of white.