I was going to write a post. It was going to be something academic-sounding, like “I Am Brave: Living Abroad and Glimpses into ‘The Immigrant Experience.'” “The Immigrant Experience” tongue firmly in cheek, of course, because there are as many immigrant experiences as there are immigrants. And I don’t presume to have more than micrometer-sized glimpses of immigrant life from living briefly as an ex-pat, even a broke ex-pat.
Anyway. I was going to write that post.
And then I walked, took a bus, took a taxi to the local ecole d’equitation. I spoke the French of a two-year-old until I found someone who spoke English. I got a crash course on grooming and tacking my schooling horse (I have only ever ridden bareback before).
Then I took a riding lesson. In French. I posted at the trot for the first time, I cantered for the first time. (Dear French people: you are missing a gait when it comes to the horse. It is called a “gallop.” I know you think you have a gallop, but that’s a canter. Won’t you be surprised when you realize the horse can go faster?) I struggled to understand and apply a series of home signs combined with a few words I began to recognize. I struggled to understand and apply my bareback natural horsemanship lessons to riding with a saddle. I struggled to keep my feet in the fucking stirrups, and not to fall off.
I struggled like hell to communicate.
When I was done, I walked for an hour, in the rain and the cold and the dark, to the nearest night-time bus stop, 4 km away. I huddled under the bus-shelter, feeling my saddle sores, as the rain turned to freezing rain.
I got on the bus. I got off the bus. I walked the rest of the way home. My husband peeled me out of my clothes, literally, in an entirely non-sexual way, stuck me in front of the bathroom heater, then stuck me in the shower.
In total, it took five hours of my life to get a one hour riding lesson.
Next week, I’m going to do it again.
I am fucking brave.