Monday, April 24, 2006

The First 'Last'

Yesterday, I said goodbye to Miwok Livery, the stables where I have ridden horses for the last four years. As I prepare the move to Denver, this is just the first of many lasts. Soon, there will be the last day at work (!), the last bus ride, the last Presidio hike and then it will be time to hit the road, me and all my crap.

This morning, as I rode atop Teddy, a very timid, complacent Appaloosa, I watched two young bucks bound across our trail and pondered their budding velvet antlers. Wildflowers were popping out everywhere; bluebells, orange poppies, irises, yellow daisies all framed the muddy trails, still sore after all the rains. I looked out across the slate grey ocean and realized, again, that for the first in my life, I will be landlocked.

When I came to Miwok in February 2002, I was an emotional mess. I'd been terribly hurt in an affair gone awry and needed some immediate healing. I clearly remember driving from the Oakland Airport, sobbing heavily, directly fleeing the source of my pain. In a panic, I began running through the myriad of things I could do to salve my open wounds: Call a friend? Get drunk? Rent a movie? Get blazingly high? Go dirty dancing? Off myself? Read a book? Jump out of an airplane?

The list went on and on and my insides responded to none of my self-suggestions. By sheer process of elimination - somewhere between "robbing a bank" and "origami" - I finally came to "ride a horse." Deep, deep inside my guts, something clicked. ‘Yes,’ I thought to myself, ‘that just might do the trick.’

I’d immediately called my dear friend, the late Jack Smith, who always had an answer for everything and if he didn’t, he would find it. He told me about Miwok, a place just down the road from him in Marin’s Tennessee Valley, just six miles from me. I went home and called them immediately.

The very next day, I went out on the trail with Linda Rubio, the owner of the place. I was on Teddy (we’ve come full circle, he and I) and Linda on Kaleen. I was a giant ball of emotion, ready to cry at any moment, but tried to keep that factoid on the down-low.

Making our way through the Marin headlands, I finally began to get a whiff of peace – though still far from it. A coyote watched us pass and later, a young buck moved out of our path, but only as an afterthought. “These animals have never been hunted so they have very little fear of us,” Linda explained.

As we come over the grass meadow, I spotted the top half of the Golden Gate Bridge. We trotted for awhile and the conversation turned to life’s unpredictability. I did not mention my recent confirmation of this but only nodded in the affirmative. We discussed the path to happiness, how it is clouded for so many in their quest. “I think that most people just end up with a lot of stuff,” I offered.

“Too many people are looking for answers,” Linda said, shaking her head as hawks flew above us. “And the answer is: There is no answer,” she laughed.

“Yes,” I agreed, “and the more you look, the more questions you’ll find.” We rounded a lush, green bend and crossed a wooden bridge … clippity-clop, clippity-clop.

Suddenly, I felt like the luckiest woman alive.

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