I think I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a long time. My last blog post. An explanation of sorts, for why I stopped writing. Some closure. Ever since returning home I’ve been hung up on milestones – waiting for them, commemorating them, thinking wistfully of what was, and watching it slip further away. A year since traveling Europe. A year since waking up in Aiken. A year since completing my first event. Finally, a year since coming home.
You would think that after a year, the “homesickness”, the longing, the sadness at leaving behind friends, horses, a lifestyle, would have faded. It hasn’t. I still follow the North American eventing websites, the live results, the social media accounts. I wouldn’t know anything about the Australian eventing season, but I could tell you who’s winning back in Canada. Re-adjustment, re-integration back into an equestrian community is hard. I’ve been fortunate enough to find something to ride, but after my time abroad, I am spoiled for anything less than the best. Riding in my old second-hand saddle, in a paddock not quite flat, with no arena, no coach, and not much of an idea of how to re-educate a young polocrosse horse, I struggle to find the enjoyment that once came so easily riding the Rock. Babies and greenies are fun, but most of me yearns for the experienced horse, the one I can just get on, and lose myself in the nuances of a shoulder-in, or the art of riding an angled line. The one that teaches me, instead of me teaching it.
I miss the people, the horses, the lifestyle as much as I did the day I flew home. The milestones bring sadness and smiles – sadness because they’re over, smiles because they happened. A constant balancing act.
I’m not writing this to be depressing, or melodramatic, but rather to help myself find some closure. Today, without even realising it, I passed another milestone. I went to work, I walked into a room, I sat down, and I spoke with a small group of graduates aspiring to work where I do. A process that I went through about a year ago, when I managed to make it through all the applications and tests to attend an assessment centre for a highly regarded graduate program in a government department. A year ago, I left the assessment centre feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of my chances. Today, I shared my experiences with others in that situation, detailing how much I have experienced in the six short months I have been in my job. I have met wonderful people and worked on challenging and exciting tasks. I have moved states, moved cities, and moved out of home. I have capitalised on five long years of study, and attained the job I always wanted but never knew existed. I have started creating new memories.
For me, it’s hard to accept that I no longer have the luxury to drive five minutes to a beautiful barn, fetch an amazing horse, tack her up in beautiful gear and go off to ride with an amazing coach in a stunning arena, or through miles of forest, or around a perfectly manicured jump course. That simply does not exist here. What does exist is the beginning of a career, the forging of new friendships, the slow re-integration into the equine community, the slow re-education of a new horse. What exists now are memories, of the best kind, and new milestones.