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...
Meatloaf, love, and UFO's
Photo by Walter
photo by Walter
Walter and Melissa
photo by Walter
photo by Walter
photo by Jordan
created by and photo taken by Jordan
I’ll start today with this Stallion here that is available for free to a good home. Here is his info:
2004 Red Dun (overo) AQHA/APHA stallion, 15H AMR BADGER POCO DEE By SUGAR BADGER CHEX-APHA 4th in World working Cow Horse and Freestyle Reining plus ROM’s in Heading, Reining, and Steer Stopping, NRHA Open Multiple World Show Qualifier and NRHA ROM By PEPPY SAN BADGER-NCHA and AQHA Hall of Fame, etc, by W/C Sire LEO SAN by AQHA Hall of fame LEO; Sire’s Dame is an own daughter of REMINIC-NRHA Million Dollar Sire. Out of a granddaughter of SONNY DEE BAR-AQHA Hall of Fame and W/C Sire. Dam’s sire line is predominately King, maternal grand-dam is the daughter of Holey Sox- NCHA money earner and sire of Rsv W/C AQHA & NCHA horses (xLeo). This is a FANCY red dun with blaze, 4 whites, and belly spots.
I just copied that word for word from the paper Brenda gave to me, but I am sitting right next to this horse now as I write and he is an absolute sweetheart. He has a long, gorgeous mane and tale and a super shiny coat and trots around beautifully in his pen. He doesn’t have papers, but you could get them. He could be used for Western Pleasure or as a show horse, but he can’t be worked hard on hills or sharp turns. He was ridden too young and has a weak knee.
He is a horse that needs one person who will love him and care for him. He is a lovely, beautiful, strong horse and I would take him if I could, but I obviously can’t right now. Maybe someone reading this will be able to give this awesome horse a home. Here he is:
Last night Jordan and Walter and I had a wonderful dinner with Melissa and John from the radio station and a group of their fantastic friends. Melissa and I had a photo shoot yesterday afternoon and I am so psyched to see the pictures. She has said I am welcome to use them on the site so I will put them up once they come.
We were told great stories about surprising John on his 30th birthday and how they all crashed a UFO convention. I was impressed with my brain when it remembered the name we were all trying to figure out for that ball that has electric little bolts in it and if you touch the ball they all move to your hand. It’s called a geodome and I know this because my brother always used to have a geodome when we were growing up. John told us that some of the UFO people had staffs with geodomes on the ends of them. They used these staffs to run up and down people’s backs to get rid of their zephyr’s. John laughed and said, “do you know what a zephyr is!?” as he animatedly told the story. We were all quiet and he yells out “ha! I don’t know what it is either!”
We laughed and ate and sat outside around a fire until 1:30 in the morning. John is from Ireland and he brought out some of his Turkish delight to share with us and before that they brought out an amazing Irish dessert called Banafee that Melissa had made. We are going to go see them again today at the Desert Bar because they are both working there today. We’ll go after we take a dip in the river.
As we sat around the fire we moved into the topic of the ride and I was asked what’s different as I travel across? What is different about the people? As I think about this now, I think my answer is simply nothing. When I answered on the spot my brain immediately went to political views and mind sets related to specific topics, but when you strip all of that away and you look at a raw person, what really makes them tick deep down, is there really anything different? Not that I can tell.
I was asked what I’m searching for.
John said he was a person who is always interested in the “why’s”. “How does this work? What does this feel like? Why do you think this way? What brought you to this belief?” These are my questions too. I’m interested in people and how we work, how we relate to each other and why we choose to do and believe some of the things we do and believe.
Love, relationships, marriage, and divorce are massive parts of our lives, and from my experience, seem to be (other than the necessities of eating, drinking, and sleeping) pretty much our main concern. Of course, we are animals, and other than eating, drinking, and sleeping, animals want to reproduce. The thing is, as I mentioned earlier, we have a different understanding of love and expression than other animals and this is something that sets us apart.
I don’t underestimate the depth of the love that an animal can give to a human and vice versa, but a human to human relationship is without debate different than any other. We search for love. We don’t search for reproduction. We search for companionship and romance so much so that for most of us it is our number one focus.
So, naturally I am curious about our number one focus and what makes it work and what keeps it from working. I am not so much searching as I am going to what I knew was out here. There are people everywhere to connect to and I don’t walk away from these people thinking “Hm, well they were awfully nice people”; I walk away with a sincere, deep feeling for them and absolute honor that I was able to share a piece of their life, ideas, and stories. I believe life is about learning and connecting and I believe that the more views and ideas and opinions you get, the more you learn and the more able you become to form a bigger idea of what this whole thing is about. What thing you ask? Oh I don’t know…life, love, the whole shebang.
Back to people being the same if you can scratch away the layers of politics, religion, tastes, pleasures, etc….
Something that is amazing to me, and that is the same with every single person on this planet is the smile. It happens too early on in our lives to be something we just pick up and it is too impossible to hold back a smile for it to be something that just developed. It’s like the question of the world and the Big Bang Theory. People ask, “What was the spark that started the bang?”
What is the spark that starts the smile? It’s this sort of expression that we are born with; this ability to emote so clearly that is unique to the human being that interests me. It’s that spark in us that makes our eyes squint and our lips curl up and during it this flood of emotion that pours from us towards the thing that’s making us laugh. It’s inexplicable as to where it comes from or why…and it’s pretty cool.
There is no survival reason to smile. Our bodies don’t need to have this reaction to stay alive, but we don’t just have this reaction, we live breathe and die for the smile. This spark that comes from somewhere we can’t touch and can’t understand that makes us do something that we all love and wait for.
My dad always used to try and make the cashier people in the grocery store smile and he has yet to be unsuccessful. Sometimes we would walk up to the grouchiest looking people and that would just set a fire in my father to make them smile. It was his challenge. Oh, my Daddy. Daughters and their Daddy’s. I told Walter and Jordan as we were driving home last night that daughters and Dad’s have very sensitive, very special relationships. Lindy, a friend of Melissa and John’s (and I am happy to say of mine now as well) told me how it wasn’t until she went through her own divorce that she understood her father and what he might have felt when he divorced her mother. Now they are closer than they ever because she has felt what he felt and for this reason she was able to relate and forgive.
After all, people are just people. But what does that mean? This is a question asked a lot in the musical “Into the Woods”. I refer to this musical all the time because I think it so perfectly describes life and love. Sondheim is…I don’t even have a good enough word for that man. What does it mean though? Is this an excuse? But whatever it means, it makes sense somehow. People are just people…and as Regina Spektor says “People are just people. They shouldn’t make you nervous…Maybe you should just kiss someone nice or lick a rock, or both.”
Not everyone sees a person and wants to make them smile. Sometimes we see people and think they are just jerks and can go jump off a cliff as far as we care, but not my dad. That is one of his gifts.
My mom used to sing this brownie (girl scouts) song that went like this “I have something in my pocket that belongs across my face….” And I can’t remember the rest of it, but basically it’s a smile.
“Smile though your heart is breaking.
Smile even though it’s aching
When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
If you just smile”.
Truer words were never spoken. I have actually looked in the mirror and made myself smile before when I was sad and it really does help. It releases something.
My mom taught me to always have an easy smile. She told me this so many times when I was a little girl. She would watch my face because she said I always showed what I felt in my face.
“Be careful, Lin, you could hurt someone’s feelings”.
My mother is kindness. She would never look at someone and twist her face up in annoyance or conceit.
“Smile, Linny. Always have an easy smile”.
My dad always worked to get people to smile and my mom always encouraged it from us. My parents are the smartest people in the world. What is the number one thing to teach a child who is entering into a world that will show beauty, but also death, heartache, and deceit? To smile. Because you really will get by if you just smile and not only that, so will the people around you.
We went into the subject of marriage and the ideas and limits we put on one another. There is something so beautiful and romantic about the idea of finding your one mate and dying old in their arms, but it’s the freedom to love openly that holds us together, not the restrictions. I feel like marriage is often viewed as a sort of law or cage. How many times do spouses joke “well, before I had my handcuff’s on”. Of course, this is just a joke and usually said lightly with a laugh, but at the same it does seem to start out as a celebration and move into a restriction.
"Was that me? Yes it was. Was that him? No it wasn't..
Just a trick of the woods!
Just a moment,
One peculiar passing moment.
Must it all be either less or more,
Either plain or grand?
Is it always 'or'?
Is it never 'and'?
That's what woods are for:
For those moments in the woods...
Oh, if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one--!
But if life were only moments,
Then you'd never know you had one.
First a witch, then a child, then a Prince, then a moment--
Who can live in the woods?
And to get what you wish, only just for a moment--
These are dangerous woods..
Let the moment go..
Don't forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you had an 'and,' when you're back to 'or,'
Makes the 'or' mean more than it did before.
Now I understand--
And it's time to leave the woods."
Stephen Sondheim-into the woods
Celibacy is not always just about the absence of sex, but about the time someone is taking to find what makes them smile without sex or a relationship. We are very, very obsessed with sex and when we hear the word monogamy many people will ask “why”? “WHAT!!!!?” “why in the world would you…..what???? No WHAT!!??”
Lindy joked last night that no sex was like…like…”like saying I will never eat meat loaf again!”
We were all kinda silent for a moment. Meatloaf? Melissa piped in, “how about water? It’s more like not being able to have water.” Lindy said she doesn’t really like water all that much though. Alright, coffee! It was agreed upon that it’s like not having coffee. Meatloaf, water, or coffee.
A man I talked to last night has just gone through a divorce and is now going to be celibate for a couple of years and it makes perfect sense to me. This man walked in to an office one day and asked a woman, “are you happy”?
At first she thought he was talking about work, but then he said, “no, outside of work, are you happy?” She answered “yes”. He said ,“I am too, now, and I want to know why.”
He has just gone through his divorce and is now alone and wants to see what it is that he has when he is alone so he can keep it when he is with someone again in the future. I think this is awesome. I think a part of what causes some marriages to fail is the loss of yourself and the fear of being alone.
My uncle once said “we come in to this world alone and we die alone” and on one hand it sounds harsh, but then again, it is true. I mean, we don’t really come in alone, we begin inside out mother’s body so it’s fair to say we come in with her, but we are far more able to entertain ourselves, think, sing songs, and play by ourselves as kids than we are as we age. We search for this soul mate and then we live for them and forget ourselves. I think it is a beautiful thing to find someone you live for in a sense, but it’s like being in a crashing airplane when they ask you to please put your gas mask on before helping the person beside you. It’s not because you are the most important, but because you need to have air to help someone else. I think sometimes we get into relationships and our own mask starts to slip until we’re breathing fumes and not thinking straight and finally it all crashes and burns.
Being alone on the horse gives me a lot of time to think about this kind of stuff. My mom asked me yesterday morning what I think about and I joked that sometimes I just get the same sentence stuck in my head over and over and over again and I’m just kind of repeating it to the rhythm of Sojourner’s hooves, but thankfully I am able to break out of that and think beyond that at times as well. Yo
I am totally at peace when I am out there with the horse. I hardly talk and I have yet to be even the slightest bit bored.
Now, I have to make it clear that when I write these entries, I am discussing conversations I’ve had and opinions I might for in the moment, things I’m bouncing off walls and onto this computer and back to myself again. They might change and I am no way preaching any specific ideas, just thoughts and opinions of the people across the country mixed in with my own soft opinions.
I do believe in marriage and I believe in wishes and dreams. I also believe in responsibility and hard work and I think if you can balance the fairy tale of marriage with the maturity and responsibility it takes to make it work then you might just make it through. The cool thing about challenges is it makes you appreciate the roses. Relationships have to have hard times to keep the good times so vibrant. It’s like a hot shower for me now! Oh, how I appreciate it.
Melissa made the point that sometimes she has to get away because it makes her miss so terribly what she left behind. It is not that she had to get away to remember, she knew she would miss what she left, but if you take that time to yourself it makes you appreciate the time that is not just to yourself so much more. It is a beautiful thing to have a partner, to have a home, to have continuality.
I believe in marriage because I think it’s romantic and beautiful, but I don’t by any means think it’s necessary. I also don’t think college is necessary, but I went and I believe in it to an extent. I appreciate my education and the people I learned from and met there, but should there be so much pressure to go? No, of course not. We learn from people; people who have written books and people who show us their crafts. We are a little obsessed with paper and the things we print on them to credit ourselves: marriage license, college diploma, George Washington. The more the better. The higher the better. For some reason as we’ve moved through the years we have come up with ways to prove ourselves through paper. “Where is it written?” “Show me the money”, “Are you married, divorced, or single? Check here.”
But there we are, flesh and blood, living and breathing and learning and who the hell cares about these limitations and what society has deemed right and wrong? We all know what it is to be good and kind. We are all given emotions that tell us. Our body tells us “this is beautiful, smile at it”. We have no control. It’s as amazing as the spark that starts the very first beat in a babies heart. Where does it come from? What starts the thing that starts the tings that starts the spark that starts the beat? Silence, silence, silence, and then in one miraculous second, life. The beat that we’ll walk to for the next hundred years trying to figure out what to do with the feelings the beat brings.
Pictures by Stephen from Joshua Tree: