Child’s Play


Really, is there anything sadder?

Just like that. Only a hedgehog.

I happened to walk into my bedroom earlier today looking for the chopstick which I use to keep my hair up in a bun. Since it is singularly uncomfortable to sleep with a chopstick attached to your head, I often take it out of my hair and leave it on the bookshelf beside my bed during the night, so it seemed like the most obvious place to begin looking.

When I got there I discovered that my childhood stuffed animal, a hedgehog named Hortense, had fallen over into the corner between the bookcases. Being a grown woman, I don’t actually sleep with stuffed animals anymore, but I like to keep Hortense nearby out of sentiment. She sits on my bedside bookshelf keeping a threadbare, one-eyed vigil over my contact lens case, my hair-chopstick, and whatever books I happen to be reading (Currently a biography of Robert Oppenheimer).

Retrieving Hortense from the corner I went to brush the dust off of her and came away with a small linty dust bunny of grey dust and cat hair. It made me realize how long it had been since I’d last picked her up.  Years. I was overcome with the impulse to smell her. She didn’t smell like anything. I’m not sure what I expected- something that would remind me of my childhood, I suppose. And then I took a really good look at her, realizing that with her threadbare patches and her missing eye she was truly the Classic Beloved Childhood Toy… with the exception that she was a hedgehog instead of a teddy bear.

And then I got all teary-eyed. I’m not sure that I could say what emotion it was that I was feeling except that there was a lot of it. Sentiment, perhaps. Part of me was disgusted with this outpouring of sentiment and reminded me quite sternly that Hortense was just an inanimate object of no special value or meaning except for my own perceptions. Another part of me was quite certain that Hortense would be one of the first inanimate objects that I would try to grab in the event of a fire. Another part of me marveled at how much meaning and importance can be endowed on such an inanimate object so that it can take on such a life of its own.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 19, 2014.

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