With lines sometimes comes a story. And admittedly, the story usually occurs after the fact. The trick may very well be at such times to hone one’s power of observation. For example, a month back, I was at the post office. There was a semi-long line. Directly in front of me was a woman with seven kids, all below the age of seven. They were a noisy bunch, and the woman remained oblivious to this. She finally got to a counter, and then began, with the clerk’s assistance, working on passport forms. I was impressed with the clerk’s attitude. She set to filling out those forms like it was the most important thing in the world. I suspect that she’d resigned herself to the fact that no matter what, she had a full day of servitude ahead of her.
I transacted my business, which was not without incident. I was mailing a saddle back to Canada, and this required that I fill out a lengthy customs form. Then Spike, the counter clerk, had to add additional information. He took five or so minutes to do this. Then something went wrong, and he had to start over.
As I was leaving, I noticed that the P.O. line was as long as I’d ever seen it. It went to the far end of the mailboxes and out the door. It reminded me of being a kid, and going to see Mary Poppins. That was yet another impressive line. Okay, so I’m told we can transact most business on-line. But of course, not all.
At the year’s end, most look back at the events at hand. As a whole, they comprise 365 days worth of reflection. The question one usually then considers is, was it a momentous or a so-so-year? Births, deaths, weddings, funerals, graduations, career promotions, trips to Disneyland, personal happenstance, they are all tallied in. Then one moves on, and begins the year anew, maybe wiser, maybe not.
I’d have to say that it was a momentous year for me. The horse trip: that was it. It involved seven years of planning and preparation. It now boggles the mind to think of it—that I began the adventure by taking a horse course with Katie Long. One thing sort of lead to another, with me always believing that the trip would come to be. And at the same time, Pete and I were making our place livable. The two things, simultaneously, have been very time consuming.
This past year, preparing for the trip—purchasing gear, buying a trailer, getting the horses ready, dehydrating the food, finding homes for the other animals, it was momentous.
There were a few so-so moments on the trip itself, like having to wait at Taylor Park for Chad, our farrier, to appear. But otherwise, it was life affirming. We met many good people, and saw a lot of spectacular scenery. We also got to spend time with our horses, who always arose to the occasion when asked to do what at the time seemed near-impossible, like going down steep trails. Oddly enough, it often seems as though the trip never happened. After, Pete and I fell back into our old routines. We resumed working around here, getting our wood and greenhouse act together. He took on an extra class, which enabled us to pay our trip bills. And I wrote my book proposal. Horseback rides and hikes were interspersed between these things.
I’m now wondering what’s ahead in terms of the upcoming year. If I could have things my way, I’d have it so that Long Ride Home is published and that I get a hefty advance, one that will pay for Part II of our trip. Both could also lead to my getting a job teaching creative nonfiction in a low residency MFA program.
The trick is to be flexible, because not everything goes as planned. Signy is now going to have a foal, and this, for sure, will be a trip-related complication. There is also the matter of the coal mine going in. If we know for sure that this is to be, we’ll have to spend our time getting this place ready to sell. So maybe we’ll end up remaining put for the upcoming year.
The path of my thinking has led me to this conclusion. The trick is to (as best as one can) remain in one place in one’s head, and make as the mundane momentous. Otherwise, life is not worth living.
Next: 26. 1/1/12: Ringing in the New Year