The Plot Bunnies Thicken…

 

I ended a little abruptly last week, and realized I’d left out some fairly critical details. Let’s face it: an adult buying a toy for decoration is strange, but not unheard of. It doesn’t make for much of a story, though. Why would an adult buy a toy? Why would she take said toy all the way back to her dorm, and leave it on a shelf, surrounded by freezing cold rocks, shells, and books? Okay, the rocks, shells, and books were pretty cool, but that’s a little beyond the point.

Remember how I said my person was the creative type? Well, I was destined to be part of that. See, the kiosk that I had originally lived in had these really pretty pictures of us toys in natural settings. There was a frog on a lily pad, a few horses in a grassy pasture, and a lion on a rock. Well, my person looked at the pictures and thought, “How fun is that! I could do that.” And in a rush, I was bought.

The idea was great, but the camera that she had couldn’t take the pictures. I’m small for my breed, and it had a hard time focusing on me (okay, I suppose this might be an inside joke. Lipizzaners average between 14 to 15 hands tall; I’m 3 inches tall, so I’m not even a full hand). My point is that the camera couldn’t do what my person wanted it to do, so the project was put on hold for a bit.

Not that it diminished my adventurous spirit. If nothing else, it made me want it more. EverSea (the beautiful sea-green unicorn) had been all over. While in Ireland, she was taken with my person to Italy, where she went to Naples to see Pompeii. She went on a cruise this last year to Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. Am I jealous? Yes, yes I am. Still, her tales were what I was interested in, and they’re what kept me going. EverSea told us about going to California to see Disneyland, and going to Chicago, and traveling around New Mexico.

Truthfully, I was a little nervous about moving. I mean, come on: born and raised in Ireland. Did I really want to go to a desert? I was used to seeing green as far as the eye could see (okay, that’s an exaggeration: I was in the heart of Dublin, where there was a green aura around the city, but mostly I could see shiny buildings and the Liffey…). Desert, though: desert is completely different. All I could picture were tan dunes as far as the eye could see, and that wasn’t really appealing to me. Heat and plastic tend not to go well together.

I side-tracked just a little bit. In Dublin, I had a fun time in the dorm. The dorm was pretty quiet, truthfully, and with all the books, it reminded me of a library (or what I imagined a library to be). My person liked traveling around Dublin Bay, so there were always new stones, fossils, shells, and other, natural souvenirs that she collected during her adventures. I dreamt of the places she’d go. The stones smelt of moist dirt and the salty sea, and the shells had the rhythm of the ocean pounded into their very fiber. All of these things, which might have seemed small, were gigantic to me, and being positioned in the midst of them, I was able to get a taste of Ireland that my window didn’t afford me.

I was also positioned under the map in her room. Whenever she traveled somewhere, she’d highlight it on her map, so that I could see everywhere she’d gone. I longed to go with her to these places, but without a camera that could capture me in the pictures, it wasn’t going to happen.

While she was gone, the toys in the room would exchange stories. I had initially met EverSea, Anubis, and Starlight, and eventually my person added a little white tiger named Saskia (Sas for short). We were scattered around the room, but when no one was listening to us, so we could talk freely.   EverSea regaled us with stories of travel and life on the farm, while Anubis would tell me what I was like while he was at the National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology. Anubis was from their Egyptian exhibit, and he could hear the talk of the patrons and the staff, and occasionally he could see into the museum itself. He also knew stories of Egypt, and would talk about the old myths and pharaohs. I could see why my person liked Egypt so much: it sounded very much like a land of adventure.

Starlight came from a little crystal store, and would talk to us about the dreams that patrons would tell the shop keepers (I just have to say: dreams are super weird! “I’m dreaming of a whale falling and suddenly it becomes a pot of petunias…” oh, wait, that might be a scene from Hitchhiker’s Guide).

Saskia’s stories I liked. They were about the animals at the Dublin zoo. I think they were more relate-able, in a surreal sort of way (I mean, let’s face it: I don’t have a lot of the same issues that a normal horse would have).  She was good at making the animals come to life. Elephants, tigers, bears, otters: I could imagine them all, with all their hi-jinks, playing and feeling and being. (Sadly, to date, I still haven’t been to a zoo, but I’ve now been to a few aquariums.).

My friends made everything better. Knowing I was with them, I gradually came to accept my fate. I would be a desert horse, whether I wanted to  or not. Fate sounds ominous. It wasn’t a choice. I went where my person wanted me to go.

At least while we were in Dublin I was able to spend quiet nights with her. My person tended to be fairly quiet. At night, she would either study or read, or more often she would go write. Sometimes she would spend hours writing, and I could always tell that she felt accomplished when she did this. She didn’t have a computer in her room, so she went across campus to write at a computer lab that she’d found, and when she got back, she’d seem exhausted but there was just an aura around her that was happy. This was important. When I’d first met her, I would have pegged her as homesick, but after she came back from winter break, it wasn’t homesick. She seemed lost, heart-broken. Her family was feuding in the worst of ways, and she wasn’t dealing with it well. Her stories, and us toys, made her feel better. We were helping her get through it.

You might think it’s silly, but a toy’s number one job is to help their person, no matter what. With little ones (children, not small toys), it’s not as difficult. Children are much more connected to the magic of toys, and we’re often confidants, counselors, and distractions from whatever life shoots at them. With adults, we can still be a distraction, and a comfort. The healing power of a hug goes a long way.

Again, trying to keep this lightweight, but stuff definitely happens in life, and I’ve learned there’s nothing to be done about it. My person was going through a rough patch, which meant that we were going through a rough patch. She still explored, but the early part of the year in Ireland is rainy and can be gloomy, so she didn’t go out as much. She read like reading was going out of style. She went through several books that were over 500 pages, and she would complete them in a matter of days. I worried about her. We all worried about her. But she trooped through, and we all knew what would happen when she was done with her studies: we were moving.

See, it all circles back to my fear of moving. My person was stressed and depressed and anxious, which wore off on us. We didn’t know if we wanted to move, but we certainly didn’t want our person like this. I hear people talk about moving like it’s a good thing: it’s a change of scenery, a change of pace, a change of faces. It’s always a change. Change isn’t always good, and we were nervous. EverSea assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem, but we weren’t sure. We liked our little dorm room, with the view of the Liffey. We liked the books and rocks and map, and even the Where’s Waldo poster that was hanging up in the hallway. We became jittery.

Little did we know, our fears were way exaggerated.

Where It All Began…

The new year has begun, which means that I’m finally going to take the advice of my herd and start writing. We’ve all been through so many adventures already, and the adventures don’t seem to be stopping. Who would want them to? I would have never guessed that such a life exists for a toy!

I supposed, then, I should start with introductions. My name is Icarus. When I first got it, it seemed a little strange. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. Being a pony, I was expecting something like, “Blackie,” or, “Midnight,” or, “Prince Glitterhooves” (hey, I’ve heard some of the names that toys are called, and that’s not outside the realm of them). Icarus was definitely not in my top five, and it took me a little while to get used to it.

Turns out, Icarus is a character from Greek mythology (I learned a lot about mythology from my person. Who’d guessed, right?). Icarus was the son of Daedalus, who was this amazing inventor and mathematician, and in general pretty cool guy who kept getting into all kinds of trouble from all of these kings. Basically, he and his son were imprisoned, and he decided the only way to get out was to fly across the sea. Pretty cool, right? He built these amazing wings for him and his son, and they flew, but Icarus flew too close to the sun, and the wax holding the wings together melted away, and he felt into the sea.

Not exactly the happiest of stories, but it’s a Greek myth, so what can you expect from it? Anyway, when my person first gave me the name, I thought it was a little strange. I’d never heard of it, but the name stuck. I am Icarus, the little pony who flew too close to the sun. Now I sound a little cynical, don’t I?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot from my person. She loves mythology and history and stories, and I’ve learned to, as well. I mean, I’m writing one, right? It was a little bit of a shock to get used to her, though.

I like my person. She’s short, for a human, and a little rounder than normal (but she’s working on that, so we don’t say anything), but also she’s fun and adventurous. And she chose me. Most toys want to be purchased for a child. We get to be played with, we get to be loved and adored, and we get to have adventures. Adults don’t seem to know how to do that with toys, not really. Or maybe just not as often. That’s what I had wanted, when I’d first showed up at the toy store. I wanted a child to play with me. Hey, I’ve seen Toy Story. The toy struggle is real.

See, I’m from Ireland, originally. Dublin to be exact. I was from this little toy store on the north side. When I was unpacked, there was a small kiosk with other ponies and animals. Some looked like me, but the others didn’t. The toy store was nestled away on a corner by the movie theatre, and I could see and hear people walking to and fro, their voices a blurred chorus of usually happy noise. Inside, there were walls with dolls, and toy guns, and Legos. There were a lot of Legos.

It was a quiet place, the peace broken occasionally by the pitter-patter of children and their delighted squeaks and squeals as they picked their new toy. I watched them come in and pick up toys, the little ones’ eyes filled with joy and wonder and desire. I loved watching them. Sometimes their parents seemed to take joy in the new toys, too, but sometimes it seemed more like a chore for them. I always wondered why that was. How could anyone not be excited about getting a toy?

The other foals and I would talk about the kids that we would get. Would it be a little girl dreaming of being a princess, would it be a cowboy, would we be space ponies? The possibilities seemed endless, and more and more I found that all I wanted to be with a child, any child. It started as nervous energy whenever a child would walk in. Would this be the moment? Would this be my new family? It was hard to tell, but all of us colts felt that way. We’d get jittery.

Time passed, and nervous energy gave way to longing. I wanted to know what the other toys were doing. Were they in space? Had they gone to another planet yet? I tried to imagine what the inside of a messy bedroom looked like, and how my stable might be under a bed. Would I ever be covered in spaghetti? Would I ever play in a bathtub?

Outside, the weather turned from bright, summer sunlight to the grey of winter. Rain fell in icy sheets against the window, and it was harder and harder to see the people as they passed by the store. Inside, I felt like I was losing everything. How could I have not found my family yet?

I promise, this story has a happy ending.

Inside the store, we watched the workers start putting up decorations. Wreaths and ornaments appeared, turning the bright, little store into a glittering alcove. Amongst the shelves, rumors began to spread of a holiday called Christmas that was coming. Christmas was a golden light among us. People would buy toys for children for presents, would buy more toys for their stockings, would buy more toys to pacify other children. That meant that we’d all be getting a home. We’d all be finding families.

And that’s about the time that my person walked in. It was the beginning of December, and it was a grey day, but there wasn’t any rain. She walked in, and she looked lost. Her eyes were tired, and she didn’t seem like she belonged, not really. Still, she looked around. The shop keep and her didn’t talk, and I wondered if he was curious about her as I was. I mean, she wasn’t a little kid, but she looked like she needed something. Like she was somehow incomplete.

After a few moments, her eyes settled on our kiosk. Her blue eyes surveyed us, a hint of amusement showing from the way her lips curled at the tips into a smile. She looked at all of us, and then, quick as a whip, grabbed me and hurried to the cash register.

I had thought, back when the other colts and I fantasized, that I might be leaving with another. It probably wouldn’t be another colt like me (after all, how many Lipizzaner colts does one child need?), but surely another, maybe a Clydesdale, or a Shire, or maybe a pony (a real pony, like a Fell or a Shetland. We all know what we are. Horses, like cats, always know). But she whisked me away, like I was all she needed.

I was put in a little, plastic bag and we left. That was that. I was nervous. As much as I had wanted to be part of a family, now I had even more questions. My person seemed pretty young, definitely not older than mid-twenties, and she seemed lonely. We walked a long time, and I grew worried. Where were we going? The weather was cold; I could feel that, even in my bag. After a while, we entered a courtyard, and I could tell we were getting close. It was the way she walked: she picked up the pace, eager to get out of the weather. I didn’t blame her: the rain in Dublin can be a little unpredictable, and she, as far as I could tell, was only wearing the hoodie. Not very much protection.

We entered a building, with white walls and no noise. I wondered, for a moment, if it was a hospital, but it didn’t smell right. Together, we entered the elevator. It rumbled a little bit, and I could tell we were going really high up. The elevator dinged, and we stepped out into another white hallway, followed by another, and then, at last, a white room. Carefully, she reached into the bag and removed me, and I liked what I saw. She smiled her little smile, and then set me on her desk, which wrapped around the room and was covered in books, rocks, and shells. The walls were decorated with posters and a giant map of Ireland, and nestled in one corner was a bed, made but a little messy.

My person tucked me away, and for a little while, I lived in that room, where I could see out the window. We were five stories up, so I had a great view of the Liffey River, and the O2 Stadium, and all the glittering buildings in between. The room was warm and cozy, and my curiosity peaked. Along the way, I had wondered if my person might have a child she was delivering me to, but now I had doubts. Still, I was curious. What was an adult going to do with me?

I learned a lot in that little room. We were in the heart of Dublin, on the south side, at the edge of Trinity College. My person studied history at the college, but she was also a writer, and loved to read. Soon, she added friends for me: a little statue of Anubis, Guide of the Dead, and a little unicorn named Starlight. She also had a stuffed unicorn called EverSea who looked over everyone. EverSea was beautiful: sea-foam green, she was gentle and caring, and told us stories of the desert where my person lived. Turns out my person was a student studying abroad. At the end of the school year, we’d be moving.