Sunday, July 21, 2013
Thursday, the day before Stampede started, I found myself in a bit of a surreal situation. There I was, in the early morning air, listening to someone read off a list of horse and rider combinations for the upcoming week. It would have been close to a year ago to the day that I would have been the one reading horse and rider combinations to eager counsellors at orientation for the ranch.
Stampede was a wonderful distraction for me, it's hard to think about the past when adrenaline is coursing through your veins as you blast out of a centre aisle to "THIS IS CALGARY, AND THIS IS THE CALGARY STAMPEDE".
However, every once and awhile I would feel that old shadow of a friend creep up behind me and nag at me, don't you remember me? Of course I do, how can you forget something that was so ingrained in your life for so many years.
It was around that same time that a friend of mine randomly brought up the ranch. He said that he was surprised how much he missed it, how every once and awhile he would get this feeling like he should be there, how sometimes it felt like he was there. He put it in the most poignantly, perfect way that I could even grasp. That it felt like it was crowding his peripherals, if he were to close his eyes randomly during the day, he would feel so linearly drawn to it that for a moment he could almost taste the very air that inhabited the space, and then, for that split second, he would be afraid to open his eyes for disappointment.
When the ranch went up for sale, I would get washed away out to sea by the enormity of losing the place that meant so much to me. I would have dark moments on the floor, just sobbing. It's not just losing a place, it was losing a life, and so many dreams. However, now, it is in the little mundane moments that pass so fleetingly. Those peripheral moments that you can't quite grasp and then they're gone.
For me, I had the habit of closing my eyes on long trail rides and letting the sun dance across my eyelids. I used to reach out my hand and brush the poplar tree's leave as we rode by. I find myself replicating that behavior almost on habit, the other day I let my hand out and brushed the cold concrete of an underpass, it wasn't the same. It isn't just being in the city that gets under my skin, even when i'm out at the barn, or in the country, something is just... missing. During Stampede I went out to see Jingle, it was dusk and I buried my face in his mane, in that moment, it was almost like I was there. After he had come home from his disappearance act in the hills I spent many nights as the sun slowly set grooming him and talking to him, just happy to be in his presence. However, just like my friend had said, I opened my eyes to disappointment. I wasn't in the round pen, I was in the breezeway. The "shed", the large pole barn that housed the dude string, wasn't looming behind me, a sentinel amongst the trees. Instead, just our front yard, my truck in the parking lot...
It's easy to duplicate feelings, emotions and patterns when you did the exact same thing, every week, for six weeks, every summer, for five summers. It's easy to feel empty and alone when your Monday wake up call means a shower, and a trip to the office, whereas, for five summers, a Monday wake up call meant the first day of rides for a brand new group of campers. Just beyond my peripheral vision I can see all those horses lined up in rows, softly munching on their hay, nickering to each other. However, here I am, at my office, and all I can hear is key strokes.
It is a strange thing, knowing you can go back to a place, but knowing you can never go home.