I’m jetting home to Texas & over thinking again…my thoughts tend to over process on a regular basis & come up with some weird analogies at times. This is definitely one of those times.
Blue was a pedigreed Appaloosa mare my uncle owned. She was beautiful and smart. My uncle Mark’s cousin Murl trained champion cutting horses & Blue was one of his champions until she got too smart for her own good. She was the first Appaloosa ever to make it to the finals of the national cutting horse futurity. Right there in front of every who’s who of the horse world, she got fed up with the whole frustrating situation, grabbed the calf in front of her with her teeth & shook the shit out of it. She was disqualified, cousin Murl was very publicly humiliated & my uncle Mark took Blue home to Arizona in order to save Murl from a) wasting a bullet & b) getting fined for shooting a gun in city limits. Blue was 4 years old & I was 3.
A few years passed & I spent the summer in Apache Junction, Arizona, riding Blue all over the base of the Superstition mountains. More years passed & Uncle Mark got in trouble with the IRS. Blue came to live with me.
That’s where my story really begins. Blue & I were in our 20’s, she was a senior citizen & I was a young mom with two little boys living on 15 acres along the northern edge of the Texas hill country.
Blue, all her tack, a really nice 2 horse trailer & her best bud Native (also a Murl rejected beautiful pedigreed Appaloosa) came to stay with me so that the feds couldn’t confiscate them. Blue & Native were best friends, my confidants, my sons’ nannies & enemies to the wild goats I pretended to own. They were an integral part of our every day life in the country & part of my little family.
Blue was calm & easy going, Native was skittish and “difficult” at times. Or so we all thought. I am by nature an observer, a wallflower, a people watcher. I can sit in a corner, talk to zero people in a crowded room & read body language all day long. Back then, living 6 miles from the closest tiny town & not having a car at my disposal meant I spent time watching my boys, chickens, dogs, pigs, horses & occasional rattlesnake.
It took me a few months of observations and working with Native to realize what was up with his attitude. He wasn’t skittish or difficult, he was damn near blind. I grew up riding & training horses, so once that light bulb flickered on in my brain, I really WATCHED how Blue helped Native navigate their world. Then I set about working with Native to help him navigate with touch & sounds. It worked! Native settled down and became an amazing competitive barrel racing horse. More importantly, he calmed enough that my boys were safe around him.
We had a few years of fun & companionship with Blue & Native before Uncle Mark settled with the IRS & they went back to Arizona. Blue died peacefully in her sleep when she was 32. Native grieved. She was his best friend & eyes for over 20 years. He lived another 6 years with Uncle Mark who learned to assist him much the same way I had.
Flash forward to my over thinking brain. I just spent the last two & a half weeks being the “seeing eye chick” to Bob who was a casual friend before this trip. An hour ago, it felt weird and almost empty to walk through the airport alone. No explanations of what I am seeing, or prompting him to move this way or that, or stop, or this person is talking to you, Bob, but that person is not, here’s your coffee…oh shit he’s locked out of the room…
A bond is formed that goes a lot deeper than I was prepared for. The level of trust he placed in me is mind-blowing. For example, I don’t like being the passenger in a car (or on a bike) because I have no control. Bob has to take it in stride. So, we drove Mulholland faster than recommended so he could feel the curves & he laughed when I cussed LA drivers & I am pretty sure he white knuckled it more than a few times as I took turns too fast & swerved to avoid the ever-present idiots of LA freeways. We learned to coexist in a tiny AirBnB we nicknamed the closet that in all honesty, was not “blind friendly” accommodations and totally my fault for not paying closer attention when I booked it. We almost sideswiped a whole table of food because I didn’t navigate us through a crowded restaurant correctly, but he never lost patience with me. Basically I made a lot of mistakes & Bob was gracious enough to laugh them off. We laughed a lot! Along the way, my signals to him became a little more natural & relaxed & we became real friends & comrades until the airport shuttle dropped me off way to soon & we sadly said goodbye for now.
Sitting in the plane staring out the window, I remembered watching Blue & Native navigate through mesquite trees & cactus & those damn wild goats. That’s when I realized LA is a lot like a pasture in the hill country of Texas, wild goats, rattlesnakes & all.