Sometimes you even surprise yourself

First thing’s first: I got to write a Year in Reading entry for The Millions, and here it is for you. You should read the other ones, too, but I bet mine has more Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch than anyone.

In the coming year—actually, in the coming weeks. Weeks!—I’m going to change several huge things about my life, and it’s exciting, but also stressful and scary. Classically, I’m bad with change, even when it’s self-motivated: for just one example, here’s an essay about buying a house that I wrote earlier this year, which barely even expresses how psychotic I felt throughout the process, despite now loving my house very much.

One of the major changes, which I also wrote about this year, is that I’m selling my horse, Lady. I haven’t talked a lot about this since I published the essay, because it’s turned out to be a fairly drawn-out process (which really, I should have anticipated, given what I know about horses and horse people), and more so because it just makes me sad.

Horses make me sad now. I don’t intend to stop riding, so I suppose I’ll have to get over that eventually, but grief isn’t simple, and right now, this is mine. Seeing, say, a picture of a horse on the internet used to fill me with pride—I know about that sort of thing, I would think. Now I feel like I broke up with someone, and all of our mutual friends keep tweeting at them. I feel like I am apostate to my own personal church.

But at the same time, I believe I’m doing the right thing. First and foremost, Lady is a damn cool horse, and she’s young: she’s not ready to retire, and she deserves to be ridden. The person who I think (hope) is going to buy her will be good to her, and will learn a lot from her, as I have. That’s good. I have a responsibility to Lady as a living creature, and if I can’t give her what she needs, I need to let someone else do it.

Second, it’s just what I want. I want to write as much as I can, to write and draw and go as far and fast and hard into my work as I can. Every time I go to the barn lately (or think about Lady, really) I get weepy, so I’ve asked myself once or twice, do you really want this? And I do. The logical outcome if I kept her would be that I’d have to go back to riding at least three times a week, and if it doesn’t sound like a lot, just believe me, it is.

So I’ll be sad for a while. That’s ok. A lot of people experience sadder things.

I can’t really talk about this without feeling like an asshole, which isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. Oh, you’re sad you have to sell your horse, princess??? is pretty much the phrase I imagine that everyone’s thinking. And maybe some are! But who cares. I’m not trying to pretend that I’m starving to death: this is a personal sadness, based on losing an emotion connection to a living being, which I’ve fostered for more than five years. I have a longer-standing relationship with Lady than I have with some people, and probably a more intuitive, emotional one as well.

So there it is. After I talked with my trainer (who’s very kind, and is helping me very, very much with this) about the fact that we might have a buyer, I spent the evening crying in the bathtub, like a classic romcom heroine at her low point. I can’t help giving myself shit about this, I don’t know why. Every phrase that comes out of my mouth, everything I type, is extremely judgmental, even as my real emotions wash over me like waves.

I’m going to miss my girl. I love her, a lot. After all this is over, I will probably never see her again. And that’s something I just have to live with, as well as I possibly can.