Cutie the Blind Horse

When I was thirteen I caught the horse bug for real.  I can’t remember how it started – I had always loved animals.  But I started riding horses (English, so I could jump) in Andover, Massachusetts, and my sister and Mom soon followed.

By the summer after my freshman year of high school, my Mom had found a very odd barn on the north side of town owned by “sisters” who seemed unlikely to be from New England.  Mom, who is on her third horse just since moving to Colorado in 1995, first attempted horse ownership with an unfortunate mare named “Call Me Cutie”.

I don’t think I had quite realized yet how my mother’s involvement in my hobby (and my first boyfriend) were affecting my interest in riding, but Cutie did not fit my ideal of who my horse would be.  Mom had explained that Cutie wasn’t very pretty, but she was very sweet, and Mom had ridden her and she was calm and a great first horse for us.

Cutie was anything but cute, the poor thing – the horse equivalent of being forced to buy all my clothes at our town’s Marshall’s.  I can best describe her now as some sort of dappled Roan.  But then, I rode her, as Mom urged her daughter with the great seat (that’s a riding term for sitting a horse nicely) on our new mare.  And someone started the tractor.  Cutie bolted across the arena, terrifying me and herself.  I really didn’t like her then.  She was homely and scary.  Cutie was a nervous wreck.

I don’t remember what happened next, but Cutie must have been returned to her previous owners, who discovered that she was blind. Cutie had never revealed this as she was ridden on the same familiar paths daily.  Only the new surroundings showed her less obvious flaw.

Our next horse, “Wayward Wendy” was a beautiful dapple gray with triple crown winner Seattle Slew in her blood.  Like most thoroughbreds, she was “off the track”, having committed a few slow races before being dressage and hunter jumper trained.  Wendy made un-asked for flying lead changes and would squirt at the boys when she was in heat, halting in front of them in the riding arena no matter who was waiting for her to move.

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We moved barns when we had her, and she lived a couple miles from our house.  In one of the loneliest and most picturesque summers of my teen years, I would run from our house to the barn and ride Wendy bareback at dusk.  Wendy reared up and bronced when under the saddle, (yes, just like a bucking bronco), and I miraculously never fell off her until the day she spooked when I was walking her cool and my feet weren’t in the stirrups.  I almost broke my neck in an irrigation ditch and would never ride her again.  I’d still run to see her and sit in her stall, she’d kiss me as I’d trained her to, and I could cry with my head on her neck.  I loved Wendy, and I never stopped being her friend.

Wendy had back trouble (hence the broncing and rearing up) and was likely drugged when Mom met her and bought her.  I mostly relate to her type – striking, misunderstood, and passionately in love with a bad boy (the Palomino Billy – so much so that she rushed a gate and opened the skin on her chest on its corner to get to him).  But I’ve never felt more like poor Cutie than my first weeks in a new city, at thirty-eight, and not on vacation.

I love to travel, and normally, I love getting lost.  It’s the best way to find new places.  But, being someplace new when you have work to do is a whole different story.  I never moved someplace for a job before.  I always moved someplace to find a job – and finding a job is filled with all this desperate exploring and not having money and filling out applications and learning the landscape of a city… as you worry it’s going to spit you back out to its environs, dumb broke loser that you are.  I’ve done that one so many times, and mastered it a couple at least.  I fought for my place in those communities, and felt like an earned member.

My last city – I knew how dialed I had it.  Yes, it was blowing up and changing all around me, I couldn’t stand my new neighbors, but I had my super cheap place (and the broken garbage disposal that came with it) in a fantastic location a mile away from my primary place of work.  I knew where to go, where to park, bartenders and CEOs and artists and pools and back roads and dog sitters and free eyebrow tints and comedians and every brand of locally available kombucha and tequila.  I had pick up dry cleaning service for God’s sake.  And could barely date a guy who hadn’t slept with one of my friends.  But then again, access to verified reviews on the same.

My new city is a life I’ve never lived.  It’s very grown up, and that’s scary.  I feel I’m already destroying my brand new apartment for the simple fact I’ve never had such a nice place to live before; I don’t even know how to care for it.  Destroying it includes chipping a baseboard and scraping paint from the walls in separate mirror and poster hanging incidents.  I already spilled a Campari Soda on my brand new couch because I am a boisterous, unfiltered, and clumsy girl.  My daily disasters range making a wrong turn or exit at least once to forgetting my wallet and having to Venmo someone money for our meeting and my gas, to being on the wrong side of the fucking highway for the bank.  Everything is new and I have so much more to deal with other than just that new stuff.  Like my career.

I’ve been embarrassed by how flummoxed I am by the combination of Siri’s bad directions (Austin’s roads and highways are weird, they really are, and she just doesn’t get it) and the complexities of entering someone else’s apartment building garage.  I pride myself on my organization and efficiency.  I really do believe in minimalism.  I really never forget my license or lose things.  Except lately.

Lately I’m the opposite of efficient because I literally never know where I am, have no idea how long it takes to get places, am always late, am always overheated (Texas), and forget to pay my bills (overhwhelmed).  Therefore, I feel like a child who was dropped in a grownup world, and just can’t take care of her shit.  Because I really did stretch my adolescence into my late 30s, I’m struck by how much fancy apartments and taxis weren’t a part of my old life, even in a rich white people town like Denver.

I had no idea how used to my old city streets I was – I was so anxious to get to a place full of people I hadn’t met yet.  And that part is nice, but I’m surprised how my self esteem plummets with the part where they don’t know me.  No matter how far away I get, I think I’ll always be that small town New England girl with the shitty outfits from Marshall’s.

Wayward Wendy was sold as a companion horse and got to live out the rest of her life on Cape Cod.  The day they picked her up and took her away, she whinnied loudly, desperately, as the trailer pulled out of the drive.  It was painful.  My Mom and I were crying.  Mom called the new owners and was told “she is such a nice horse”.  That was all she wanted to know.  I hope she lived a long and happy life near the ocean.

I am not quite ready to retire yet.  And also don’t want to be sent back home.

I still haven’t had the “big night” I associate with myself as I’ve always known me.  The first thing I’d do in a new city was to find the very hippest bar I could attend and stay at it as late as I could.  I haven’t had time for those kind of high jinks.   Though I do experience the world through my work and the friends I meet through it:  restaurants, venues, swimming pools, and the like, my favorite inroads to a new place are the grocery stores (where I’m wandering around looking for syrup) and the outdoor spaces, where it actually feels different than where I’ve come from.  Texas to me is swimming holes, butterflies, mesquite trees, these lizards I keep seeing, the surprisingly charming crickets of September, the country music on the radio,and oh, the six dollar negronis.

Yes, a fucking six dollar negroni and butterflies.  I may be blind, but my eyes are open.

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Monogamy is Ambiguous and I might be a Hypocrite

 

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This is a confusing world we live in.  Just when you think you’ve thrown off all the traditional mores you were raised with and become who you really are, you are faced with something you never saw coming – the fact that people actually like to have exclusive relationships in which they also have sex with other people.  Like other people who aren’t in the two-person relationship with them.

I hate this about relationships: people talk about them like they are beasts that need to be fed.  “We need to work on our relationship.”  “We are taking some time together to work on our relationship.”  “We are in couples counseling so we can work on our relationship.”  “We need to work on our relationship so we can get married/buy a house/have a baby.”  Fuck, why do relationships need to be work?  I already have more than one job.  I just want to meet someone cool to hang out with; then we can live together, have simultaneous orgasms together four to five times a week (even more if we shower regularly and get enough sleep), read the NY Times together on Sundays while we eat breakfast (it’s too much newspaper for one person as I am reminded on a weekly basis), and like, I don’t know, be on the Amazing Race?  Or at least travel enough that we feel like we went on it?

I mean really, that’s what I want.  What everyone wants – a best friend, right?  But like, a best friend that I have sex with, who has the same ideas about housecleaning.  But nobody wants a best friend with no other friends right?  I want all my best friends to hang out with other girls, have a hobby that doesn’t interest me, and not make me feel like they are dependent on me.  I used to say to my ex: “every day I will set you free, and every day I will hope you come back to me.”  I can’t believe how full of shit I was either, but I was honest about the fact that I didn’t need or want to do everything with him.  I wanted to do lots of things with him, and I wanted to keep doing lots of things into the future, without worrying about where we were gonna live or if we could afford to be adults and stuff like that.  I just wanted to love each other and be kind.  The fun part was already there, or we wouldn’t have been together in the first place.  And I was okay with him having some secrets, as long as I could keep mine as well.   But one of those secrets wasn’t going to be other women in our present.  And he never could have handled that either, if it was other men for me.  Non monogamy just seems like a load of additional work.  Think of the therapy and talking and honesty about EVERYTHING.  I don’t even like my boyfriends to be in the bathroom when I pee if I can help it.  Mystery, please.

It occurred to me that beyond the internet linking us across continents (and, city blocks, if you’re the type to Tinder for your dates or your ass), air travel changed the world before I came into it.  You can’t meet anyone in my city who hasn’t been to Iceland now that we can fly there direct.  People are full of photos of themselves in various locales.  This traveler is who I am in my heart and will always be, they seem to say;  “You can never pin me down”.  It’s an option my Mom never would have had – because she had us, my sister and I, by the time she was eleven years younger than me now.  What else was she going to do?

So more than world travelers, we are daily travelers in my circle – meeting and connecting with so many people for work or friendship or some kind of transaction.  The options can seem limitless even in this formerly small city.  I don’t want to not be able to enjoy that, and I’d never expect a partner to give up that openness, or expect him to have a life in which he felt like he was my man, glued to my side, unable to act in so many fashions.  Some privacy, some separateness.  I need this too.  We want to keep this feeling of seeing the other one across a room – there you are, my special one, just like you were before we met.  And so perfect, as I found you then and find you now.

Then again, I’m hypocrite like anyone.  And occasionally, when I fall in love, I forget all of that, start cooking more, watching Netflix, and falling asleep on my lover at 11:30pm on our couch.

I feel that intimate moments are the only time we can really feel like we own each other.  I am yours, and you are mine, because this is the one thing we have we don’t share with people.  I don’t want to let go of that like all these uncomfortable trappings of supposed adulthood and relationships I’ve watched drift away.  This one I really like, and it makes me feel safe.

My personal monogamy is this: if we are sleeping together, regularly – for example, once a week – we can’t be doing it with anyone else.  But if we are sleeping together like, once a month, I might be squeezing someone else in around you.  Because neither one of you are reliable most of the time, you’re just reliable infrequently, I consider myself an uncommitted single who is enjoying the moment and the present you bring me when you bring it.  However, this situation has only really lived in one era of my life.  Other times I had some overlap… because I was young, and on the town, and would meet one guy who would fade, or didn’t live where I lived, or was married, or something like that… and some other guy would show up on the tail end of it.  It was clear how uncommitted everyone was.  But I was always looking for something sacred.  That was always the hope on which I acted. You know, like Carrie Bradshaw.  And Charlotte.  Miranda and Samantha were sluts.

Other people seem to drift from one intimate transaction to another, day by day, or week by week, when I still want it to mean something.  Do I hold on to moments meant to last for minutes and try to make them keep for years? Or do I go in getting exactly what I was looking for and then try to make it something else?  That’s when it hurts.

A friend who is decidedly and openly non-monogamous described the intense sex he had with a recent connection – a very strong, strong connection who then ghosted him.  She’d said “are you giving this kind of dick to everyone?”  Excuse the crude language, but isn’t that what we all wonder when it’s that good and we aren’t sure if we are the only one?  We want to be number one somehow, right?  It’s what we wonder in a break up when we see our ex with someone else.  He can’t be with her like he was with me – it’s not possible, right?

I can’t reconcile non monogamy with sluttishness.  They must go together, shouldn’t they?  But I’ve never considered myself slutty, and I don’t believe in celibacy at all.  I’m always looking for a regular sex partner who will devote himself to me even if I want to be able to leave the situation at any moment for a more suitable actual boyfriend, or, because I’ve become bored with casual sex going nowhere (hypocritical – and I found myself in this very situation recently).  But like, someone who embraces non monogamy, is that possible without being a slut?  I mean, isn’t multiple partners the definition of promiscuity?  But then that would include any single person who has sex.  My friends have often teased me for being the prissy one, the one with the shortest list (though I have finally come to terms with being a queen cock tease; I love a good make out that ends when I decide I don’t want to have sex with the guy), but I took a quiz that determined I have had sex with 95% more people than most people my age.  I guess you can be non monogamous without specifically seeking sex, but just wanting to be able to have it when you want to.  It’s hard for me to picture, but my openly non monogamous friends are probably not the womanizers an ex of mine from the past decidedly is.  How I put this knowledge aside when we were in love, and how it was cruelly painful to me once were apart.

Fuck, this is all so confusing.  I don’t have many rules, but I have this one.  It’s the only way I really know.  Love is so hard to find – once finding it, how can it not be enough?

 

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