Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things He Started in Me

The fact of him, I mean. The facts. Eleven months of Dar, with Dar. I don't have him anymore, but he is an engine that started something in me.

I was dumbfounded by the ripping sense of loss I felt when I returned him to the jousters and then dumbfounded again by my grief the first time I saw him carrying Jack on his back. Soon, though, the demands of the festival left me scant time for mourning, though I was, though I did. Through my busy, helter-skelter days there he was, there he's been, there he went, a sometimes hazy, sometimes toxic blend of remembering and imagining. I kept putting it off for the work at hand, but he was always there, somewhere below the surface.
But underneath it all, I couldn't see how he caused me to grow; I just wasn't looking there.

I knew this horse. I know that now. I knew he needed to fight it out with himself. Maybe he'll get that chance one day, maybe he won't. But I can live with wondering what he could have been because I know only practical things stood between us in the end, not a lack of willingness. I couldn't have afforded the facility, the time, or the trainer to help me answer the question of his nature as clearly as I wanted. I really wanted that answer, I really did. I didn't get it, and that's how it worked out.

These days, I watch with interest when I see Jack out and about aboard Dar. I see that Dar is just fine because he's boss of that kid, doing him a favor carrying him through sloppy, unkempt rides. Dar knows that world; it's where he came from. He can be lazy there, he can say no. He goes in a side pull knowing full well he can duck and buck anytime he likes. Disconnecting him from contact does him no favors at all. He'll lose most of the progress we made with him, but I'll never lose the progress I made because of him.

There were those 11 months, and amid them all the things you don't pay attention to in service of the things you have to pay attention to. I had an injured mare facing a long recovery. I had Dar, underweight and overdue for good basic care. It was triage more than anything, building him up while I tried to settle her down. You work on manners and never notice how easily you engage the radar that enables you to move around a horse safely. You back a pushy horse out of your space and never think of how simple it was to do. You train "Don't ever show me your teeth again" and forget about having done it because you never had to train it again. Endless instants that became as commonplace as breathing accumulated into knowledge and understanding. I have more confidence than I did the day before I got him, and now I'm ready for more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fact Into Fable

H.G. and I own a shop at the festival where I work. The other week, artists were invited to paint their impressions of the fair, and our store happened to catch the eye of one of them. He painted an image of our shop that matched one we had always imagined between ourselves, deep in our shared interior space. A shop that never was, in a place that never existed, but the very one we could remember years from now, when our lifetime of common experience finally brought us both to the moment wherein looking back upon our history would bring us assurance that our future would continue.

And so I find it with Dar. The mark he made on me is deep; I have to accept its permanency. Giving him up can't change that, because I can't give back our brief history, can't give back my love for him.
He mattered to me. Things that matter are the only kind that change us.

Like this painter, maybe now I can only contain Dar in story, where wondering and wishing is just a subplot adding color and mood to the central arc, whatever that is. Not to romanticize it, but to hold the essential hope of it, the little victories of it, as though it once was, never mind that it isn't.

Things will be better when I learn to apply what he touched in me.