When I was very young, my Uncle Steve gave me my very first unicorn.
She was small, maybe two and a half inches long, in a resting position with one foreleg curled back and the other in front, her tail swept up along the same side as her back-turned leg. She was white in color, with light brown highlights along her mane and tail, and she was rough, not smooth. It wasn’t long before her horn broke off–I don’t remember how–and I glued it back on, ineptly, a gop of glue squishing out around the break. I managed to keep her safe after that, until she was lost with all my other possessions in the apartment fire of 2005.
By then I had other unicorns. I’d taken to exploring the gift shop area of Nicholasville’s Dish Barn whenever Mom took us by, searching for them. I also found statuettes of ladies in beautiful dress and cute animals and furniture for my doll house. I bought my treasures with my allowance, or sometimes received them as birthday or Christmas gifts. My newer unicorns were all larger than the first. One was tall, reared back on its hind legs, with a smooth finish and a blue tint to its mane and tail. One wound up and played music–I also loved music boxes, though I was somewhat particular about them. I had a statue of a mother and child unicorn, both with reddish mane and tail. All my unicorns were lost in the fire, of course, but I still remember them as they were for years, lined up nearly (though packed in tight) on my dresser beneath my bookshelf in my room at my parents’ house.
I had other kinds of unicorns as well. Uncle Steve gave me unicorn stickers, in the flashy, hologram style that was popular in the 80’s. And a teacher I loved in the first grade gave me an absolute treasure: my first book about a unicorn. (It may have been Misty Morgan. I do remember that book, and the lesson it taught me about selfishness and respect for others.) We had The Last Unicorn on VHS and I loved to watch it. I was terrified by the Red Bull and I found the butterfly tiresome, but the prince was brave and good and the unicorn was heartbreakingly beautiful, even as a lady.
I loved unicorns; I loved the magic of them. I loved the idea that they might have existed, that their horns might have had special powers, that they might not really be gone, but just hiding somewhere. I wanted to meet one, to know one. I wanted my unicorns to come to life.
Sometimes it feels as if unicorns have gone out of style, that now they’re something to be mocked rather than adored. I wonder what sort of magic my niece Daphne will grow up believing in and loving? If not unicorns, then maybe dragons…those seem to be enjoying quite the resurgence in popularity. Whatever it is, I hope Daphne wishes some wonderful wishes and dreams some wonderful dreams. And I hope I can contribute to her fun, like Uncle Steve contributed to mine.