So this is nothing intelligent or insightful.
Last horseshow of the semester was last weekend, up in Clemson. I still don’t know which of the Carolinas we were in. It turns out that Bill, our trainer, is from the area. F.E.N.C.E was hosting City League at the same time it was hosting our IHSA show; so needless to say, the place had a lot of activity. As soon as we got in, we immediately changed into our Halloween costumes for the Halloween party Vic was throwing at the showground. I changed into my Greek goddess costume (goddess remaining a loose term, considering the “gown” was 90% polyester) the others in costumes that didn’t reach past their knees. Kathleen forgot her costume, so she proceeded to call her mother to blame her for the whole thing. We pieced together a costume for her out of Emilie’s boyfriend’s field jacket.
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast right out of a movie- probably a horror movie- the owner was of course a very old, kooky lady who was nothing but hospitable to us (though Emilie swears that at one point, when the woman went behind a swinging door, as the door swung back around, she saw the woman standing there staring eerily at us). We found out later the place used to be a funeral home.
Which, you know, just adds to the charm of the whole place.
We arrived at FENCE and there was a big closed off tent adjacent to the indoor, with lots of tables and lots of rich folks inside. We got there just in time for the award ceremonies of a grand prix we’d just missed, but there was still a keg and some chili left. Bill knew everyone there ( or everyone knew Bill ) – it was his son “Lil’ Vic” putting on City League, and Billy and Liza were there too. Joanquil and Maddy were both there- dressed as naughty schoolgirls- a novel idea, really! I think I was the only female under age 30 who wasn’t wearing a costume name with the prefix “sexy” or “naughty”. Ray stayed long enough to get us beer and then left in a huff for some reason only beknownst to him. Peter, Katie, and Devon were also there, being cute as usual. Peter kept walking up to us with fake limbs and rubber body parts and asking, “Does this gross you out? How about this?” while we were eating.
The kid will no doubt be an Olympic hopeful in 8 years or so, but right now, he’s just a kid.
It wasn’t really fun, but it was interesting. Some kid kept hovering nearby, and Bill asked him if his dad was riding yet or if he had all ready, but I don’t know if he was a Russell or not. For the rest of the weekend’s events, every time I looked up and around, he was looking at me. It was kind of odd. A weird guy came over and waited for Bill to introduce us, but after he didn’t, he skulked off, at which point, Bill turned to us to give us advice about the men at City League: Don’t talk to them. We left after a while and went back to our haunted little B n’ B.
The next morning, after an awkward and unpleasant breakfast, we went back to F.E.N.C.E. Emilie is nice enough, and even Jackie isn’t bad 35% of the time, but the other 65% of the time and Kathleen’s nasty attitude pretty much make me withdraw completely and pretend not to notice their rude remarks and petty backstabbing. It has been draining me, so I have got to put up some serious boundaries and learn how to manage them now or I will be insane, or worse- just like them- by next year. They pour out to me and tell me about their little lives, and I listen and try not to pass judgment internally and I try to give sound input, but I don’t reveal anything about myself. It works well, since they don’t ever ask.
I had a pleasant surprise when Aunt Helen, Samantha, and Aunt Helen’s mom came to see me. It was so great to see friendly, humble faces among vultures (Bill and Emilie had been gone all day). They got there in time to see me come in dead last on a miserable, angry pony that gaited instead of cantering and pitched at least 3 random fits. Oh well; luck of the draw! After that embarrassment, I drug them over to another arena (the girls took the golf cart) to watch one of Bill’s other students ride. I unfortunately only had 15 minutes to spend with them and they drove 45 minutes both ways to basically watch me lose! Jackie came over with the golf cart to inform me we were leaving and to get on the cart, and nearly blew a gasket when I said “No, I will meet you at the van after I walk them to their car.” I hated to see them go, especially knowing the company I would have to keep for the next 36 hours. However, to her credit, Jackie did feel bad after I told her I hadn’t seen them in six years; that’s proof that she at least kind of has a soul.
Fortunately for me, Emily Heidt showed up with Andrea, and they were both good company. We returned to the Bed and Breakfast o’ death to shower before heading back out to a pub for dinner where more old men (probably horsemen) hit on us, but to make up for it we had the cutest waiter ever. Afterward, we went back over to F.E.N.C.E for a grand prix. We got in free because of Bill. He went around introducing us to everyone as “his girls”. He even snuck us into the $1,000 per table tent party, which was fascinating to me. By the end of the night, he was completely sloshed and kissed all of us on the head before sending us home. It was really quite amusing! Anyway, in the tent, while we were waiting in line to get drinks, an old man came up behind us.
He immediately started in with the “Hey, you college kids! What are you doing here, college kids?”
I didn’t know how else to respond, so I said, “ Waiting in line. What are you doing here?” while carefully covering the wristband I wore that was proof of my plebian identity.
“I’m old and rich, I belong here! What are you doing here?” He kept on with it, but he was friendly enough and we were able to change the subject by talking about his horses (works every time with horse people).
It felt so strange, being in that tent. Before the grand prix, there was a “Wild West” show where trick riders came in and shot exploding balloons from their mounts. When the announcer introduced a mustang who’d been broke for under a year into the ring, I felt the “Oh!” rise up in the crowd around me and it felt like, I don’t know, like I was an orphan at the opera or something. We finally came out of there and Bill introduced us to Lincoln Russell, his nephew. Nicest guy in the world! We finally went and sat down in the bleachers with the rest of the middle class, to watch the Grand Prix. When the announcer brought in Lincoln Russell, the entire place went nuts. Apparently he’s pretty famous in the area, and he’s among the top riders in the world.
Anyway, so I sat there, alone with my cranberry and vodka and my envy because the other girls were whispering among themselves. My night brightened when during the jump off, the fastest rider thanked God silently and publicly after an amazing round. He ended up winning later on, but the act itself made me glad. We ended up going back to the pub and demanding the same waiter. As we all poured back into the streets and simultaneously regretted not saying goodbye to him, he popped out and waved goodbye.
Then we returned to the B n’B.
The next day was the second day of the IHSA competition, and go figure, I placed first with no one there to watch me. When I exited the ring, I looked to my team mates, and none of them said a word to me. Bill excused himself to get back to the other horseshow, and I just chucked the ribbon into the van. It was worthless to me. I rely so heavily on other people’s approval and recognition, and when I don’t get it, it eats my lunch. The next day, I went out to ride Holly & Bill congratulated me about the ribbon and pointing out of my division and told me I’d deserved it- by then I had all ready sucked it up and forgotten and didn’t even know what he was talking about. Later on, though, he told me he was proud of me “and my little horse” (he probably has plans of making me fall in love with her and then making me take her- he’s all ready offered her to me for free; too bad I am broke.). That simple statement made me feel ten times better, especially after the negative drive out to the barn with the girls and Marcela telling me “she didn’t even know what I did” for the team after all the hard work I do.
After I turned Holly out that night, I waited under the stars and breathed God’s fresh air while I waited for them to come pick me up. He reminded me of how beautiful the world is outside of my little problems and how He gave me great gifts and made me a truly beautiful person- I don’t need to prove anything to anyone- God notices me, God loves me, and I am here to glorify Him, not myself. I’ve been listening to Mutemath a lot lately and “Chaos” has really helped to ground me in God’s truth.
Plus, the band just rocks.