Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What We Do

A long time ago I began telling myself, Things might look different in the morning. It was when I'd left my first marriage and moved with my toddler daughter and our animals to this hilltop, and also begun to leave Christian Science, the religion that warped and defined my whole life.

It was the first glimpse of doubt permitted in what had been an absolute, iron-clad faith. But the ability to doubt is an underhanded stealth-skill everyone should learn. On some of my worst days I've been able to cast doubt on whether events could actually get any worse, and therefore might improve. It can be a back door to hope.

Last winter was snowy and bitterly cold for two months straight. We never did have a January thaw around New Year's, as we almost always do in central upstate NY. One of my daughter's old 4H goats died, but the other hung on through the sub-zero temps. I got over my goat-craze long ago (I drove here from Boston in 1982 with my first goats in the back seat) but this year I caved. I got the old goat a heat lamp, then a blanket. I bonded with the old girl, one old goat to another. (If the British Horse Society examiners could have seen me blanketing that goat...) Spring was a long time coming, and I struggled through my worst depression in years. It was directly related to my interactions with my elderly parents, who live ten miles away. Our relationship has varied wildly, and seems determined to zigzag some more now that I thought my emotions were neatly sorted.

While I was gritting my teeth, busy enduring winter, I got a phone call: NUMBER UNKNOWN. I almost didn't answer, but decided I had strength enough to chase away a collection agency one more time...except it was a fellow with a British accent, hesitant and stumbling. Was I Liz Heywood? I probably thought he was crazy...but he'd promised his wife he would call me after she died, to thank me for my blog.

I hadn't touched this blog in eighteen months at that point, and only posted a few times the previous year. I don't know the statistics on blog abandonment, but I'd guess there are more blogs in arrears than not. I felt I should apologize about this to the Brit (his name was Mark, apparently calling from England) but he told me his wife had loved reading my blog, that she too was an amputee and horseman, and that she'd made a list of people for him to call after she died, to thank. I topped the list.

I've thought before about the incidents and anecdotes I've come across all through my life, way before the inter-web universe, music and writing, photos, stories and cryptic observations, mental burdocks that cling tight. I've known I've been able to touch others just as I've been touched. But it's amazing to find out the pebble I dropped in my pond has rippled so far beyond the water I see.

It would be great to say my depression ended after that phone call. It didn't. It limped on unil it was smothered by sun and leaves and grass. I can be a world-class blog-procrastinator, claiming I hate the pressure of even a self-inflicted deadline, but I've just spent weeks working like a fiend, fencing in my pasture for my mare. She's been boarded at a farm the past couple years since I put my old pony, Rindle, down. A week ago, Laredo and the mini I bought as her roommate stepped off the trailer into the head-high jungle of pasture. Part of my self slid back into adjustment better than my best visit to my chiropractor.

Today was my pony Rindle's birthday, back in 1984. My horses have always pushed and pulled me into action, gotten me up (out of bed or off the ground) to continue. I had no intention of building fences in my fifties, but what the hey. 

It's summer, and we're still kicking. I'm getting ready to send another novel in verse manuscript to my agent, and who knows?  Life might not be as bad as we fear. If you'll excuse me, I have to go chase the goat off my porch.