My friend, Julie, always greets me with an inquisitive, "How are you?" When most people ask me that, they don't even wait for the answer (which is fine with me). But Julie isn't most people, so I always answer truthfully with anything ranging from "bad" to "alright." Today, I was feeling just okay so when she asked me how I was doing, I answered, "Okay." "Just okay?" she asked. "What? Just okay -- it's better than bad, yeah?" I responded, not sure what she was after. Finally, she said, "I keep hoping one day you'll say, 'I'm great!'"
After telling her not to hold her breath, it occured to me that the reason she never hears that I'm "great!" isn't because I never feel that way, but because she's never asked me, "How are you?" on a Saturday before. Saturday, for those of you who don't know, is my riding day, the one day each week where I wake up, get dressed, and head to the barn where I ride, sit, chat, stand, watch, groom, and sneeze, until the sun goes down. It's my one day of sanity a week and really the only time I'm truly happy.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of my control, my wonderful instructor, Laurie, will no longer be teaching at the barn and will move to Stanford instead. With access to Stanford's lesson horses unlikely, it seems I am now left to my own devices and without a horse to ride, meaning I'll be grounded indefinately.
As a few of you have already pointed out, I could always seek a new instructor/barn. However, half the fun of Saturdays are the friends I've found in Laurie's other students. Through some crazy combination of luck, coincidence, and personality interaction, we've bonded into an extremely close group sharing some intangible common bond. I've yet to distill exactly what that bond is, but it's there and it's strong. I don't want to leave it.
As the sun set behind the hills this last Saturday and it became time to depart, I didn't bid my friends a long farewell, throw hugs all around, or give special thanks for a wonderful year and a half. That would be giving into defeat. Instead, I simply waived goodbye and headed to my car just as I'd done every other Saturday in recent memory, confident I was only a week away from another cheerful greeting with green fields, horses, and friendly faces.