Last night, there was some job. It was school or it was work, something. A retreat in the country, and everyone had to pick from various things as to what they would do. One of the things to select was horses. Not just riding, but to prepare the horses for everyone else to come later on. I picked that, thinking, well, I used to know something about horses, though maybe I don’t anymore. Everyone else went off to do other tasks, and I was alone with the horses.
When I was in middle school, I spent weekends on a farm that belonged to an uncle’s brother. He wasn’t really my uncle. My actual uncle had seven wives, and wife number five, Jan, stayed friends with my Mom for awhile, until they got into a big fight about her divorcing my Dad one day. My mom couldn’t say why she was divorcing my Dad; it was private. Which got her a lot of negative judgment as back in the early 80s in a small town, it was still scandalous to get divorced. During the argument, after they had been yelling at each other awhile, my mom drug this big, heavy overstuffed turquoise armchair Jan had given us out onto the front porch and threw it dramatically down the front cement steps where Jan stood next to her car, aghast. I’ll never forget her difficulty in wrestling that monster out the front door, but she was pissed and determined. Mom screamed at me and my sister not to touch it, that the chair was staying where it was, and slammed the front door.
The chair sat out there in the sun and rain for a few weeks until Mom finally drug it out to the curb on trash day. We didn’t talk about it, and we didn’t talk to Jan anymore.
But before that, there was the farm, which was owned by Jan’s new husband’s brother.
I was sent there to spend time for various reasons. Depression, my wayward behavior, my parents’ divorce. The farm owner had a daughter around my age and she and I did all the chores together on the weekends I was there. It was real Americana, baby, what with snatching eggs from under the chickens and pig roasts and big breakfasts, and riding the shitty little rickety shuttle bus to their weirdo country church, where your dress shoes got muddy from waiting in the muddy road for the bus, and they told weird parables about apples that didn’t make any sense, just made you feel bad. And they had a rock band, because they were so cool and all.
But what I remember most was the time we spent with the horses and ponies. Cleaning the stalls, riding them everywhere around the countryside, for hours. The process of saddling them, cleaning their hooves, brushing them down when we were done, feeding them apples and oats. I took a nap out there a few times. I like the smell of barns. I’m weird.
I had a horse riding accident several years ago. Which sounds fancy, like I’m some dressage bitch, but I really just went to visit a friend who kept mustangs he was taming. This one wasn’t completely tamed, and he insisted I get on and that he could control Thunder. Should have known, with a name like that. Thunder didn’t like me, and immediately upon me mounting him, walked purposely towards his stall, which he knew was just the right height for him, and which would kill a rider if they smashed their head into the overhang as he walked underneath. No matter what I did, the horse wouldn’t turn or stop, just methodically plodded on while my friend screamed for him to stop and ran over to us from across the corral. Out of instinct, to protect my face, I put my hands up at the edge of the overhang, which was right in front of my neck, and tried to hold fast to the wooden edge. But Thunder kept walking, bending me over backwards more and more until I was completely bent over backwards in the saddle, my hands still on the outside edge. Then he stopped. My friend got there and backed the horse up, but I had broken a vertebra, and that day was over. I’ve suffered back pain as a result ever since, as the bone healed slightly crooked and pokes out a bit to one side, pressing on a nerve. I’ve never gotten on a horse since, and don’t know that I would again.
But in my dream, I took right to them again, and rode around and got to know all the animals and their personalities, and decided who would go with which animal. The smells were particularly strong in my dream; the hay, the horseshit, that horse smell, the blankets. Normally, this time of year, those smells are in my brain as I take my son to various county fairs. We are country people at heart, fair people, and it’s there around tractors and horse shit and cow auctions and barn dances that I sometimes feel most at home. Eating fresh cut fries with vinegar and getting my cowboy boots dusty. But the small one has not been with me on the dates when our regular fairs have been happening, so we’ve missed most of them. There are still a couple we might try to hit, before the season is really over.
I don’t know why I had this dream. I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe it’s the green corn sturgeon moon. Maybe I just want to ride away.
And the hours, well, I don’t mind
How they creep on by like an old love of mine
It’s the years that simply disappear that are doing me in