Back in the Saddle


My mother, in an effort to get me out of the house and active has sprung for riding lessons for me.  Now, I grew up taking riding lessons but it has been a good 22 years since my last lesson. Where my parents live now is in the country so we are at no loss for stables. We chose a prominent stable out here and I decided to learn English Style since I already knew Western.

There is something about the elegance of English Tack and dressage that I like. English Tack has left it’s mark on high fashion and Haute Couture. Open any Fall issue of Vogue or Harper’s and you’ll inevitably notice the riding boots, tight pants and flouncy shirts so prolific in show. It satiates the bourgeoisie inside me. The outfit I chose probably looked a bit silly to the veteran horse people, but I really don’t care. Yes I want new knee high riding boots for lessons. Yes I will wear a flouncy white dress shirt for lessons. If I am going to do something I at least want to look good doing it.

Riding that horse also helped in other ways of course.

One of the challenges I have been struggling with lately is people seeing me as a poor, dying, sick cancer patient. I don’t view myself in that light at all. I have always been seen as a tough, aggressive, no-nonsense type. Last summer I kicked a crack head in the face when I came out and found him trying to steal my $700 bike. I survived 4 years in New York and was considered the nice one (In CA generally I am considered sort of a bitch. ). When I agreed to take these lessons one of my fears is that I would hurt myself by falling off the horse or having a seizure. Well, that fear was realized but I am sort of glad it was.

I ended up falling off the horse and I was ok. I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I didn’t get hurt. Just because I’m going through chemo and have cancer doesn’t mean I am some delicate flower. I can take a fall and get right back up and in that saddle again (which is what I did). Nobody treated me like a cancer patient. Nobody coddled me. Instead, the trainer after making sure I was alright let me know what I did wrong so I could correct myself next time. I appreciated that. If you never fall, you never learn. It reinforced in my brain that I am still that tough NY girl who will kick you in the face if you try to steal my bike. I am still fearless.

And after every fall I will still keep dragging myself up and getting back on that horse.


Sometimes, I wonder if fate hasn’t played a hand in directing my life. If the universe has been trying to tell me something – first subtlety, and then when I didn’t listen louder. I have to wonder if my cancer isn’t fate’s way of trying to tell me something.

But what?

When I lost my finance job in NY and had my boyfriend break up with me it felt like fate was telling me my time in NY was over. I moved back to a slower pace of life in CA and the change was hard. Since I was 18 I had been on the go. Always moving, always going always kinetic. I thought in some ways fate was trying to get me to relax a little. Perhaps to appreciate family now that I had to live with them. All I could think about was how to escape. And I did. Four months after I moved in I moved to the bay area. Seven months later I was back with cancer.

I feel like fate is trying to get me to rest a little. I quite often take naps during the day now….something I never did before. I was often tired and worked a lot. On my days off all I would pretty much do was sleep and watch TV because I needed rest. Now, I’m getting plenty of it.

My mind wanders now to what I am supposed to do after cancer. If there will be an ‘after cancer’ for me. I imagine going to India, Thailand, Columbia, Paris, hiking the Inca trail….going everywhere. I want to learn Spanish and French. I want to learn to tap dance. I want to do so many things. My heart soars and my body wants to follow, it just can’t at the moment.

But maybe next year…