I don't remember much about my parents divorcing. I do remember my mom getting me lots of books, written for young girls my age, about dealing with divorcing parents. Maybe it's because of those books, or maybe not, but I never felt it was my fault, like some people would say I felt. I don't remember the time my dad didn't come home and kiss me goodnight for the first time, or the fact that the cat was gone(he came back after we figured out that he didn't like the yacht that dad lived on). According to my mother I went into court to choose which parent to stay with, but I don't remember that either.
What I do remember is the first time I was asked 'why doesn't your father live with you?' I stated that my parents had gotten something called a divorce, and that they both loved me but I only lived with my mom and saw my dad once a month. I was looked at with pity, like the kind I'd see in the eyes of my classmate when we looked at a homeless person on the way to the art museum for a field trip, like I didn't have a home. I also remember telling my best friend that I was moving to somewhere I had apparently lived before but didn't remember.
"Vivi?" I had asked. My friend, Vivienne and I had learned how to swim together, snuck into the hot tub that was only for adults and felt so naughty. We had swam in the rain, gleefully laughing as the cold raindrops splattered in the pool, dissolving the warm misty steam that had floated off it.
"Yeah Tovi?" she had replied as she had hugged her favorite stuffed animal to herself. It was a kind of joke between us; we had gone into the Thriftway and seen two stuffed animals, a pug and a collie. I wanted the collie, and she the pug, so we bought them for each others birthdays. Her birthday was only about a week away from mine.
"I'm moving." I said softly. She turned, warm lamplight turning her usually brown hair into a golden color.
"Oh." I could tell that she didn't understand. After all, we were only in second grade.
I don't really remember much about the move, either. My clearest memory is of my cat laying on the dash of the U-Haul van.
The next few years had passed easily, lazily, me growing up and getting older, not thinking about the divorce. It was perfectly alright with me; the less I remembered the better I felt.
But things have a way of catching up with you.
It was at the end of seventh grade that I really began to realize that my life wasn't the dream I had always thought it was. I had believed that my life was perfect, that I grow up and be a dog breeder of something. Things had changed, and not, I believed, for the better.
I was feeling like I was in a slow decline of spirit during my eighth grade year. I think I seemed to my friends… darker. Not as welcoming. I certainly felt that way. I thought, as I still kind of do, that if I let anyone near they'll only be taken from me. And if not now, in the near future.
My refusal to make any more friends must have been puzzling to my mother, but she didn't question it. I was prone to mood swings.
I became an insomniac. I would not sleep until three or four, then I'd sleep all day if I could. I lie awake, wondering if anyone would miss me if I was gone. I thought they would, and so I managed to suppress anything like a suicidal thought. I'm not suicidal. I want to live my live, however bad it may seem at times, grow up, go to collage, move to Scotland or somewhere like that… I don't want to die.
Over summer it changed, and this time, I think it was for the better. I went to a camp, and though nearly everyone there was younger than me, I found solace working with the horses that the camp owners kept. And strangely enough, it was a horse, not a human, who helped me began to relearn trust again.
Her name was Antigua, and she was old. The other kids didn't want to ride her because they found her slow and bouncy at a trot. We were riding bareback all week, and you could tell instantly which horse was smoother at a trot than another. I found Antigua smooth, but I guess she was kind of special to me.
We had gone on a trail ride, and I was in the group to ride back. The group coming down had dismounted and walked down the last big hill, but the leaders had decided that my group could walk up the hill. I was only slightly nervous, but didn't think anything would go wrong. After all, I had wished upon a star the previous night, asking it not to let me fall off the horse.
We had had the choice of any horse we wanted to ride, and no one fought me for Antigua. I was confident that I'd get up the hill.
However, when we began to ride up, I realized just how smooth her coat was. She had also been brushed to a shine (I had helped) before the ride. In order not to slip around, you want to have a least a little dirt in the coat of the horse. Antigua had none.
I began to slip back, and held her mane tighter. Before I knew it, I was halfway to her rump, and horses don't like that. I was riding second to last as Antigua turned into the hill, ending up perpendicular with the slope of the hill. Antigua gave a little buck, and I'm ashamed to say (I don't usually curse!) all I could think was, Oh, s. The horse I was riding suddenly didn't want me on her back anymore.
I had no idea what to do. Then, amazingly Antigua gave another buck and I felt myself slid forward a little. I realized that she was helping me back on. With her next buck I pulled myself closer to her withers and by the fourth I was right where I should have been. She turned without my command and began to walk up that hill once more. I had heard dimly the calls of the instructors, telling me what to do, but I don't remember what they said now. I learned all I needed to know from that horse.
The next time we came to a hill, it was for someone else that our line was held up, not me. I didn't stop whispering compliments to my beautiful horse all the way back to the camp base. She was neither sleek, nor glossy, and she didn't look like a winning champion like some of the other horses did. She was covered in scars from the bites of others and was a dark blue-roan color, whereas the other horses were bays and browns, creamy whites and lively paints. I didn't pay attention to her colors, only the fact that she took care of me when I couldn't take care of myself.
And, amazingly, it was indeed through a horse that I relearned an important life lesson; you can trust another. It's just really hard when you think they're going to run out on you.
I guess, when I go back to the camp this year, the first horse I'll greet will be my lovely Antigua. And she might not remember me, but how will I know? I'll trick my mind into believing that she does. She'll probably teach me once more that it's okay to trust, not everyone will deceive you. Only maybe, this time, I can start applying that to humans, and share more of my story.