My mother told me not to, but I do. I get in cars with strangers. More often than you’d think. But first, I board a plane headed someplace I probably haven’t been before.
I’ll add some background. When I was younger, travel was my addiction. I picked cities I wanted to visit and submitted my artwork to galleries there. I vacationed internationally. I made sure to take at least six trips a year. Some trips were quite long. I acted cool but it was a ruse.
Honestly, I would have rather stayed home with a horse. Then one day, when I had most of the money saved for a trip to Belize, I spent it all on a wild six-month-old colt. Finally, I was able to stop wandering around aimlessly, in my own apartment or in foreign cities, and get on with my life.
I don’t mean to imply that travel is for people who have desperate and hollow horse-free lives. At first, I didn’t even notice I wasn’t traveling. When I did notice, I got a horse trailer and problem solved.
One midlife crisis later, I moved to my farm and that’s when travel truly died to me. By the time the ungrateful goats came, it was hard to get me past the mailbox. My little farm was the first place that ever felt like home and I put down roots. I didn’t believe travel could be better than my everyday life.
Years passed. The thankless goats got old and died. A new un-appreciative goat took their place. Along with a toothless barn cat who preferred the house. Rescue dogs that made it impossible to bring dates home. Llamas that line-danced around the house.
I’ve lost count of the numbers of horses who have passed through my barn; some boarded with us and some visited for training. Add the rescue horses who needed a soft landing and evaluation to way to a forever home. Of course, the herd-members-I-hadn’t-met-yet that came and never left. Horses are royalty. It was just so exactly where I wanted to be that grocery shopping felt like trekking to Siberia.
So, like I said, after a long dry spell, I find myself at the airport. Imagine my surprise. Suitcases have wheels on them now. The airport bar has decent beer. I’m told. And after landing, I make my way to the passenger pick-up area where I get into cars with strangers. I do it a couple of times a month. Then the strangers try to kill me with kindness.
THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog three years ago to have a place to talk about writing and publishing. I thought it would be simple; I’d write the horse stuff at annablakeblog.com and the author thoughts here. Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer.
Although I had given up travel, I notice I’ve traveled to eight states and Canada this year, seventeen barns total. I’ve been invited because of my writing. This blog changed everything. No plans to stop. I have a book talk January 20th at Hooked on Books, an indie bookstore in Colorado Springs. Yay for Indies. Please stop by if you’re local.
I’m thrilled to say my next book is progressing well. Going with the tendency of doing the last thing I’d expect, it’s a book of poems from my prairie that I’m calling Horse Prayers. (I’m having a love affair with poems, but it doesn’t threaten my long-term relationship with writing non-fiction. It’s turning into an inky ménage à trois.)
Consider my job as an equine trainer/clinician as a sort of couples therapist for horses and riders. I try to find a positive way to tell riders the problems
are all their fault could be helped by better communication skills. I teach that riding is more of a dance than an arm wrestle. It’s what I was doing before I started blogging but the internet allowed my voice to carry kind of like yodeling in the mountains. Who knew yodeling was still popular? For all that I teach, I’m on an even larger learning curve. It’s irresistible.
It follows that I’ve had to learn to write on the run, in airport bars and hotel rooms and guest houses with other people’s cats. That’s Harvey, part-time literary assistant, in the photo above.
So, add 63 years of passion and commitment to horses, never missing a blog deadline for eight years, publishing three books, and season-after-season spent standing in hot or freezing riding arenas doing couples therapy until my feet ache… and poof: I’m an overnight sensation (to a mostly obscure scattered group of horse people.)
Sometimes they invite me to visit. Next year I’ll travel to some new states here at home, along with New Zealand, Australia, and Scotland, where to my gray mare delight, we’re adding writing workshops. Could it get any better?
Yes. Being an advocate for horses has had a strange side effect. It’s brought me full circle and reintroduced me to a better version of my own species. I might have needed that most.
I’m profoundly grateful for my wild luck. Boisterously grateful to my longtime readers who must be as surprised as I am. And to my new readers, a yapping thank you for joining us and keeping the energy rolling. It’s been the most extraordinary experience. I’m wishing you all a kind winter and an adventurous New Year. I’d love to say hello if I land in your area.
That’s it then, I’ve become a born-again traveler. Sure, it’s challenging to get past my mailbox. I’ve become my herding dogs’ worst nightmare and I always worry for the elders in the barn. But I have luggage with wheels. Life is change.
Besides, I did write myself into this story.