On March 1st, 2010, my friend Walter and I set off on an adventure with my Arabian horse, Sojourner. I rode Soj across America and Walter drove our little truck (with no trailer). The trip began in Los Angeles, California and successfully ended in Bath, New Hampshire 8 months and 14 days later. It was a 3,700 mile ride.
We rode in celebration of family and as an outreach to those dealing with divorce-related depression.
This ride tells a tale of love in many forms - through the people we meet along the way, our connection with the horse, with the land, and with each other.
As this blog goes on it gets more and more in depth with tons of photos and experiences. Snuggle in with a cup of tea and read this like a book. I have switched the blog around so it reads start to finish so you don't have to read backward (except the first entry).
Here is our story...
I have been thinking a lot about how to express what it is I want to achieve out of this ride. I feel like everything I have, everything I am, I owe to my family. There is nothing that I have done or can do now or in the future without them. They are my strength, my confidence, my power, my love, my happiness.
My grandfather died over Christmas. My mom woke me up at 4 am to buy her a ticket because Poppy was going to be put on a respirator (he had driven himself to the hospital two days earlier for a checkup). She wanted me to buy her, myself, and Caiti a plane ticket to fly down there and be with him. Poppy refused the respirator and was going home on hospice, but his oxygen intake became less and less and it wasn't long before he was gone.
My mom and Cait and I didn't make it there in time to see him alive. He didn't look the same in the coffin. I have his pictures all over my room-his ties and cigars and I wear his shirt to bed at night. I wear his boots and his necklace. If I could have dove inside of him and made sure he got to where he was going happily I would have. I have never missed a person so much. It's an ache that comes and hits me in the stomach time after time throughout every day since he left. I looked at a picture yesterday and examined every bit of his face to pick out what still looked the same in the coffin. His forehead was the same. The thing that upset me so much is that I laid the entire upper half of my body on him in his coffin and hugged him and he couldn't reach back. Poppy would have wanted to hug me back and it would have upset him to be there cold and still.
But...then I had a dream. Poppy was in line at a fast food place and he asked me what I wanted to eat. I just walked up to him in the line and hugged him and asked him how I was supposed to deal with this. What do I do? How does one lose someone so sacred to them and still go on? How do I not cry day after day and ache like this? I could feel his chest hair and the medal I now have on my neck on his chest against my face. He didn't say anything but he held me so tight. He hugged and hugged. Maybe that was the hug he wanted to give me. Maybe it was just my brain, I don't know. It is funny how things happen though.
But this is my point. He is everything. My dad, my mom, my uncles and aunts and my cousins and brother and sister, my Grandma, and every amazing person that has come into our lives that I consider family now. Poppy knew what was real and what was important and he loved us to his core.
When I first decided I would ride across the country it was to talk to different people about divorce. This is still a focus, but I've decided I want any stories about family-no matter what the story is. I think we all relate and connect to family stories and it doesn't just have to be a hundred different stories of divorce, just stories about whatever.
This ride is about endurance and stamina. It's about overcoming difficult situations and connecting with strangers that become family. It's about being out in the land and with an animal whose life I will depend on as much as he depends on mine. It's about showing people through my little camcorder that there are others out there who feel the same pains, laugh the same laugh, cry the same tears, and have the same desire we all have to be seen, heard, loved, and live.
I don't pretend to have any answers about anything. All I know is that I love the land, this horse, music, people, and art, and I am going to connect them all the best way I know how.