Friday, February 5, 2010

Selling My Childhood

The myth of Persephone is generally recounted as a "Reason for the Seasons", so to speak. Persephone is abducted and Demeter mourns her loss so she weeps and the trees die and eventually winter covers the land. Or a drought.  Then Persephone is finally returned, her emergence symbolizes the beginning of spring and the snow melts, the world warms and the trees grow green again.

But there is a deeper meaning to the story. Persephone begins as a child, a daughter. She is merrily playing in beautiful green feels and in love with life. She hasn't a care in the world. Next thing you know, this guy comes along. Whether he took her by force or she made the conscious choice to join him, it doesn’t matter. Persephone now becomes a wife and a queen and now has a whole new set of very adult tasks and worries. The myth not only explains the season, but it explains the loss of childhood. For mothers, in the case of Demeter, is the loss of their young daughter - now all grown up with a life of her own.

When I was a small girl, I loved horses. A lot of small girls love horses, that is true. I didn't take riding lessons or go to farms very often. My love for horses involved collecting. Breyer Model Horses have been on the market for decades. They are very detailed and beautifully carved and painted horses models, typically made from a molded plastic resin. I had dozens of them. When I was really little I played with them so many got scratched and broken. As I became a teenager, I wasn't ready to part with them. I purged the older broken models. I kept the beautiful ones displayed on shelves in my bedroom.

When I graduated from college and moved in with my partner, I received a barrister bookcase from his mother for my graduation present. We moved the horses into the duplex where we lived and I kept them on display there as well. We eventually moved out of that duplex and the house we bought didn't have a good place for the models. I had considered selling the horses, but wasn't quite ready to do that. My mother volunteered to keep them in her basement in boxes - I don't believe she was ready to let go of my childhood either.

Eventually, as time continued to march on, Matt and I moved to Atlanta and the horses finally came with us. For a couple of years they stayed wrapped in paper towel padding and stored in plastic boxes.

One day, finally, I realized that I really needed for them to go. It was time to purge that part of my life. I wasn't the little girl who loved horses any more. I had grown up and moved on and I would never have them on display again. I recognized that I was a grown woman and needed to shed some of the trappings of girlhood.

Over the course of several days, I painstakingly researched each horse. I made notes about their years of production and how much they seemed to be selling for on eBay. The memory of each horse flooded my emotions and it felt sad to me to have to reduce them all to a description, a date, and a price. Each one was rich with stories for me. I attached a yellow sticky note to each model, wrapped it gently in paper towel and placed it in a cardboard box. I was going to give these horses to a friend to sell. She had more eBay experience than I did and that way I wouldn't feel emotionally connected as each piece of my younger self drifted away.

But there was one. Just one that I kept. The very first Breyer model that I ever received. I was about 8 or so and my Great-Aunt, whom we called Nana, bought her for me. She was called "Stock Horse Sorrell Mare". I didn't know what Sorrell meant at the time (Chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail) so that is what I named her, my accent on the second syllable. She is very warn - her leg had broken off once when I was little. My mom had delicately repaired it - using a headless nail to give the leg stability rather than just gluing it back. She mixed several colors of paint that she had in the house to match the rich red of the mare's coat.

I still have that horse now. I don't know where she will end up. I'll keep her forever as a small symbol of my childhood. I imagine Persephone keeping a small daffodil in a bud face near her throne in the underworld as a symbol of her carefree girlhood (Kore-hood?) on Olympos.


  1. This was really beautiful and powerful because of the personal element you added to it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I appreciate your comment. It seems silly that a bunch of plastic horses could cause such emotion, but that is the truth of it.