We all know those dreams we had as a kid right? The tank driver, the fighter pilot, the astronaut, a magician or maybe a doctor? We were told to go after them, encouraged even. We were told when we were little that we could be and do anything, at least I was. I was never made to feel like I couldn’t accomplish whatever I wanted…except once.
My dreams weren’t that simple I guess, or the Universe had other plans. I knew I would be a teacher in second grade. That was an undeniable calling somehow cemented in place by a logic button that had been depressed early in my little brain, confirmed by the love I had for some of my teachers who rescued me from my own craziness. But my dream, now that was a different story, a horse of a different color. I loved horses, as typical as it is for a young girl to love horses, I surely did. Of course, because I’m me, it wasn’t about braiding manes or prancing around like a princess. I loved riding. I loved going fast. Even as a nine year old little girl, I loved the feeling of speed and being a bit out of control. I loved what I now know was a feeling of power. I also somehow understood the beauty between the relationship between horse and rider. There is mutual respect. There is an appreciation and care. There is a reminder that if you are out of line or not paying attention then you get thrown, which I did on a few occasions. Pay attention. Be in the moment. Mindfulness.
I rode barrel racers. I rode English because jumping was awesome. I rode Western skills competitions and the like. But my favorite was just to go as fast as I possibly could. I wasn’t an athlete, wasn’t going to win a spelling bee, and yet I was still taking nod to my competitive nature. I wanted to win. I may not be the fastest, but I could ride fast. I could ride the fastest horse. I could do that!
My dream was to be the first girl to win The Triple Crown. Yep, I wanted to be a jockey. I wanted to be draped in the red roses of the Kentucky Derby at the very, very least. Regal. Dripping in true floral red, I could imagine being covered in the sweet perfume of victory, celebrated in the partnership of man and beast.
I suppose it is a strange dream for a little girl. I have yet to meet another woman or girl who ever wanted to be a jockey. In fact, I don’t know that I have ever met anyone who wanted to be one at all. At nine, it seemed perfectly reasonable to be a jockey, just a horse racer. The one who could hold on to the beast at their best. Why not? I could ride. I could go fast. I could certainly carry the tiny little saddle and wear the awesome outfit. More satin argyle, please. There was only one problem. I wasn’t a little girl.
When I was in Kindergarten, I was lucky enough to have Grandparents take me to Disneyland. Epic right! ( I am an only, only, only after all, oh so spoiled) Even better, I wasn’t afraid of any of the rides ( except Alice and Wonderland because that shit is scary) . So there we are at Disneyland in the long, long lines to go on rides. Someday I will be as patient as my Grandparents. Someday. I’m about 5 years old in the “Magic Kingdom”…with the horrible bowl haircut and tall enough to go on every ride. I wasn’t a little girl.
By nine I was a bit over 5 foot. I was already too big to be a jockey but I didn’t know that. At the tender age of nine, I think I was in third grade, maybe fourth. Nine, not even double digits. I remember someone at a stable finally telling me that I was too big to be a jockey, that I couldn’t do it. Like no. Like impossible. Like I could never, ever do it. I remember the smell of the barn, the soft tobacco smell of the tack. The crops hanging on their hooks with coarse horsehair woven into them from use. I remember everything about that moment because I was crushed. I imagine there are people in the world that have their dreams crushed in front of them. I can imagine the girl who can’t be in a tank because she’s a girl. The guy who has to wear glasses and can’t be the fighter pilot. There are moments we realize we just can’t do something, and there is not a damned thing we can do about it, or at least there is for a few of us out there…when the universe just says “fuck you”.
But not at 9. Ug.
Today is Derby Day as I write this. This year there were four horses racing that reminded me so clearly of that moment and that dream. Four Horses. I am Always Dreaming, and sometimes life feels like a Practical Joke, but you are Untrapped and Hence you can still feel magic. Sometimes the Universe just screams at me.
I now know one of the many reasons I love riding motorbikes is because it is as close to horse racing as I can get…maybe ever. Maybe.
There really are so many similarities in riding. There is a special relationship between me and my bikes. The speed, power, wind in the hair and the sense of danger. The absolute awe for when you have the ride just right and the line in the curve lines out in front of you like magic. And if you really want, you can wear the cool outfit too.
I may not ever be draped in the red roses of the Derby, but I am reminded of freedom and the evolution of a dream when I ride. A dream once crushed planted the seed of another. This one I get to live. Keep dreaming and ride on.
P.S. Always Dreaming…for the win.