When I was 15 I lived in Australia for a year as an exchange student. Already pounding against the boundaries of what I knew, I picked the furthest place I could, where I could still be understood. Plopped down in the outback, or very near to it, I went horse riding on a cattle ranch with my host family one weekend. I had grown up on horses. My first memories are the smell of dust and feel of wet, hot hair pressing against my legs. For leisure I would ride through old cow graveyards, using bones as a maze to lead the horse through. For competition I jumped and showed and took home many ribbons and trophies. But the outback is a far cry from Florida and the horses were mighty big. Used to being ridden by large men, stooping under heavy weight, I was not so much a feather on the horse chosen for me and he quickly pushed against his own boundaries of all he knew, or had been forced to learn. Taking the bit in his mouth, he tore off like lightening through the field and into the abyss. All alone, and yes terrified, I held on for dear life. I cannot begin to explain how fast this horse ran. I was practically thrown into the air, with only the wind and my death grip on the saddle holding me down. I knew enough to lean into him. To not fight it. To just go. After what seemed like forever I heard shouting behind me and suddenly men appeared on horses running for their own lives to catch mine. Just like you see in the movies, after several tries, they managed to grab my horse’s reins and slowly bring him to a halt. I collapsed off the horse, to the ground, as faces filled with fear and relief gathered around me.
My time in California is coming to an end. It’s been a wonderful 4 months; it was nice to rest, to be in the familiar, but now I have to return to my nomadic life, having married into movement, and keep going. I think of that horse, how scared I was, how dangerous it was, but how I leaned into it, let it take me, and wow, it was one hell of a ride.