The Last, Best Load
It was like walking down the street with one foot on the curb and one in the road. I lurched with a jerky limp between settling into my farm and shutting down the last bits of my old life in Denver.
Every fall at the gallery I created a new collection of one-of-a-kind gold rings, earrings, and pendants for the holiday season. Goldsmithing was perfect work for me. It was self-motivated and creative, with the freedom to be noisy and dirty while soldering, forging, and polishing. Days were hectic as I finished all the holiday work, told everyone the story of my move to the farm, and the location of my one-day-a-week studio after Christmas. It was traditionally a busy time but this season it was particularly important to finish on a high note. I had to vacate my storefront at the end of the year, but there were still the busiest two months to get through first. It meant leaving the farm before dawn and coming home after dark, working extreme hours and then driving the three hour commute on top of that. I saw the horses at their barn when I could, and worked on my home barn in any leftover time available. I struggled to find balance on the uneven, in-between place. So far, this move was not a dream come true.
Every third or fourth day, utter exhaustion got the best of me. I stumbled into my dark house, collapsed onto the sofa, and the tears would start. I had never been the weepy sort, but I'd become a gusher at night. And this is after crying randomly and without warning through the day.
Most of the tears in my life had been spent in anger and the depth of my sadness now was disarming me, so I was whiny about that as well. It didn't feel like there was a bottom to the hurt and there was no reasoning with these tears; I could find no balance. I didn't live in Denver anymore, but I didn't actually live on the farm either. Somehow this move to live with the horses meant that I never got to see them. What had I done? All this crying made me mad, not that adding even more emotion did me any good.
No matter how much work I finished, not enough got done, and then I made lists about that. Tears and exhaustion gave way to sleep eventually, and my bed was only ten steps away, but I just couldn't get past the sofa. A few hours later, some limited amount of consciousness returned, along with a sore neck and swollen eyes. Then it was time to drive again, with a good chance I'd cry in the car.
I was holding my breath until my horses could come so I kept my head down and pushed on. I attacked the truck shed next. The stack of good luck fence panels that had been laying on the ground for a month were finally standing as a pen, supported by wooden posts buried in cement. The gate was open and waiting. The barn faced south so the sun warmed it early, and it blocked the north wind. There was fresh air and warmth, not like the closed up stalls the horses were used to. They could stretch out and nap in the sun here.
I'd have the ravine filled in soon, so the ground would be safe. The perimeter fence was still dangerous barb wire, but I set a few posts and steadied the wire. It was strong enough for now. Then I installed a gate at the end of the driveway, a literal line between us and the world. There was no money for any sort of cross fencing, but I didn't want the farm cut into a line of smaller fenced pastures. I wanted us all to live together in a huge pasture. I wanted them to be able to come up on the deck and look in my windows.
Everything wasn't perfect, but it was time for the horses to come, for one simple reason: I couldn't stand being without them any longer. Once they were here, it would all make sense, it would be easier. I put the finishing touches on their pen; fresh water from our well and rich alfalfa hay in the feeders. Then I hooked up the trailer for the last and best load.
The horses had been staying at a friend's barn, half-way between Den