As we pulled into the rock parking lot, I immediately noticed her hanging on the 50% off rack in front of the store.
The moment the car was in park, I kicked my door open and slammed it behind me as I bounded out. She gently swung back and forth in the breeze. Her brown hair shining in the sun.
The most beautiful plush horse backpack I ever saw.
Late for an appointment, I walked around the inside of the store a few times then waved goodbye to the backpack as I left. I’ll come back for you tomorrow.
Normally, I don’t get hung up on material items, save for a few precious mementos. This was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about her for the rest of the night. She’ll be there when we go back. Who would buy a horse backpack? They had like a hundred turtle backpacks. The plush animal backpack market must really be taking a hit. Those turtles do look stupid though.
The next morning came and I shoved my mother out the door. As we pulled up the the shop, my mother quietly said,”Uh oh.” The racks that were on display the day before were not outside. When we got into the store, I sauntered around as to not seem too eager to demand to know where they kept their horse backpacks. My mother noticed I was hesitating, so she asked for me, like she has probably done several hundred million times before in my shy little life.
The shop worker went to a back room and quickly came back. “Only turtles, sorry.”
My mom shot me a look, as I was eavesdropping behind a nearby jewelry stand. “Uh oh, Lauren. Don’t cry.”
I was upset but there are two key sentences that are guaranteed to get someone to cry when uttered. Those are “Are you okay?” and “Don’t cry.”
My throat tightened and I fiddled with some shitty non-horse related earrings. “I’m not. Look at these, aren’t they great?” distracting her from noticing that I was dying inside.
Still standing behind the jewelry rack, a grandmother and a little boy went up the cashier. “Do you have any more porch swings?” The deliverer of doom served some more bad news, “I’m sorry, we sold out yesterday.”
I was impressed that the little boy, who was maybe 7 years old, didn’t burst into tears like I was about to. His grandmother said, “Aw shucks, buddy. We’ll get one next time.” They left.
Alright, if he can handle not getting his seahorse shaped porch swing without making a scene, I can handle not getting a horse backpack that is uncomfortably out of my age range. You’re nearing 30, what are you going to do with a horse backpack anyway? Love it unconditionally more than any child who probably received it ever could? Yeah. You’re not even a “horse girl.” Haha horsegirl. What if I had hooves but was still a human? I couldn’t even zip the backpack. Maybe if I held it with my knees then used both hooves to pinch the zipper. What? Whatever, you shouldn’t have named her.
i’m growing to learn it’s harder when you name things that aren’t yours because you’ll get attached to it. I named the backpack Baby Hillary, after a fake character me and my friend created during a 9 hour road trip back from Canada. Hillary is a black mare who has a ‘tude-and-a-half and a penchant for sass. She’s kind of ass. When you’re music cuts out while your driving. Hillary. You can’t find your cellphone charger? Hillary. You spilled something on your shirt? It was Hillary.
Baby Hillary, though. She is an angel. She holds all your secrets and treasures and keeps them safe inside her heart/back/zipper. She listens to you and lets you brush her hair. What more could you want from a furry, inanimate, stuff-holder?
I tried looking Baby Hillary up online, and I found her, but it wasn’t the same. It felt cheap. I would only be satisfying the need of getting what I want physically, but it wouldn’t fill the void of having the REAL Baby Hillary. The one I saw and loved as she was.
I know we try and live with no regrets. It’s hard sometimes. If you see a plush horse backpack, tell him or her you love them. Bring them home and show them your things. There’s no embarrassment in expressing your feelings. That’s what we’re here for.
May you always have the wisdom and clear sight to see your Baby Hillary’s for the special one-of-kind stars in the sky that they are. Buy the horse while you can.