I watched the Kentucky Derby over the weekend. It's interesting how a completely unexpected event in life can trigger that which is perhaps already in motion. Ain't that the way. As the rain poured down in Weaverville, I cozied in on the couch and spoke on the phone with an old friend. A voice I had not heard in almost 2 years. 21 months to be exact. 21 lunar cycles. Not many really in the grand scheme of things. I picked a horse, she picked a horse. Neither horse won the race. After the race, the horses went back to their stalls.
The parallel is such that almost 2 years of running came to end in one minute. Indulge me as I connect some dots in the confessional constellation of time. Last time I saw my friend I remember the last words I said to her. I said, "Put on a smile and get out". It wasn't very nice. I wasn't very nice. As a matter of fact, that was probably the nicest thing I had said in a while. While there is deep hurt on both sides, at least there is no longer a gulf of silence. I know not what will next fill the blank canvas of sound but at least the brush no longer feels estranged to the hand. Back to the horses. Shortly after the last time I saw my friend, I worked part time in a 14 stall barn caring for some creatures who fast became my equine friends. They didn't speak, I didn't speak. If I happened to be tense, they were tense. If I happened to be down, they would nudge me and play silly games. A big "paint" I nicknamed "Benny The Hose" was an especial imp. Benny, buddy, if you are out there, there still ain't enough straw or shavings for the likes of you ! I digress. When it would rain and I couldn't turn them out to their pasture, I would muck their stalls, scraping and shoveling around their hooves, their warm coat next to my soggy skin. I would leave the barn a sweaty, dirty mess and take an afternoon dip in the North Atlantic at Cotuit Bay on Martha's Vineyard sound. That’s on Cape Cod. Every day I would effect a self styled baptismal, till it just got too cold and I turned blue and my feet bled on the tails of the horseshoe crabs. I was rinsing away the past with ice water. I would then go home and assist my father as he began to die from progressive renal failure. He eventually did at 8:07 Sunday night June 24 2012 before the sun set, which was my wish. (Not that he die, that he did so before sunset) By Nov 7, 2012 I was starting a new life in Asheville. I was first here a long time ago.. in 1986. Even then, I tucked it away as a final destination. It's been absolutely wonderful ever since.
Moral of the story, I had made a decision to leave my career, sunder my engagement, talk only to quadripeds, and care for the dying. I left behind several other things as well, including 30 cubic yards of my possessions which are now in a landfill. I have emerged on the other side well aware that no regret, remorse, bitterness and pain is, needs to be, nor should be so final a determination as death.
"No sweeping exits off stage lines, could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind" ....