Sunday, June 30, 2013

And She's Gone Again

I'm not a sleeper. Never have been. Oh, I can fall asleep all right (usually, unfortunately, in the middle of a book I'm trying to finish). But, the wee hours of the morning invariably find me tossing and turning. 

It's about stress. 

These days, my "to do" list is so long that I'm convinced it slinks down the stairs from my third-floor office like a poisonous snake, insinuates itself under my bedroom door, climbs up the bedpost, wraps itself around my neck and ... voilĂ . Sleep no more.

When I do find myself suddenly awake at 4 am, the first thing I do is head to my teenage daughter's room. (Well, actually, the very first thing I do is try to go back to sleep. Without success.) I tiptoe over to her bed and watch her breathe for a minute. Very Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, I know, I know. But, it's my little ritual and it gives me a bit of relief. With my daughter deep in the sleep of the just and innocent, I can check off one worry.

This morning, I waited until the respectable hour of 4:45 before I gave up and got up. But, there was no reason to look in on my daughter.

She's gone again.

Yesterday, we dropped her off at a horsemanship clinic in Vermont. Her boyfriend (all 950 equine pounds of him) had been trailered up a couple of days before. Their reunion was particularly joyous — think Ashley Wilkes returning to his wife Melanie after the Civil War. The equestrian center hosting the clinic is nestled into the most gorgeous countryside, with hills and brooks and woods and layers and layers of green. My daughter was most definitely in her element and all was right with the world. I couldn't help but be thrilled for her. I also couldn't help but wonder how we pulled it off. Again.

After the last week, it was practically a miracle that we did. Let's see ...

We had five snow days to make up this year, which meant that the week we should have had between school and leaving for Vermont was compressed into one day. Laundry, last-minute shopping, packing (not just my daughter's clothes and gear, but about 500 pounds of equipment or "tack" — and I'm not even slightly exaggerating).

Along with everything we needed to do to prepare for the clinic, my daughter had to take seven 90-minute final exams in four days: World Cultures, French, Biology, Geometry, Theatre Arts, Health Ed, and English. Oh my.

And, the horse had to get a haircut. Really. (BTW, I need a haircut too. But, did I get one? Nooooooooo.)

On Friday, my daughter went to the stable (where, I have no doubt, there were some melancholy moments as she gazed at the now empty stall) to organize and pack up all of her tack. She texted me from my husband's car:

We need borrow someones car.... The bmw is stuffed to capcity with all my stuff, no room for 3 people in the car and my duffel isnt in it (sic)

Great. Needless to say, my husband's aging BMW is our largest vehicle. My sister-in-law graciously offered her Jeep SUV ... with the caveat that one of her tires had a slow leak that she hadn't had a chance to repair yet. Thank goodness my husband is mechanically minded. (Thank goodness we have a portable electric tire pump.)

Early the next morning we were on the road. We stopped several times: tire pressure check, coffee, tire pressure check, restrooms, tire pressure check. We realized that my daughter forgot to bring a (required) watch and blew in and out of Target in Hooksett, NH just as they were opening. While we were there, we ... you guessed it ... checked the tire pressure.

One final costly inconvenience (I won't get into it, but do yourself a favor, don't drive over 25 mph in Woodstock, VT; although the police officers are very polite) and we arrived. Phew!

Despite the drama, we still had a little bit of crazy to deal with. Turns out, my daughter didn't need a hanging saddle rack (which we own and brought); she needed a folding saddle rack (which we neither own nor brought). Also, apparently, her paddock boots had pretty much busted at the seams. Sometimes, there's a limit to what you can do with duct tape. 

This time, fate was on our side. When we checked in, I had seen a sign for a "Huge Equine Yard Sale" a couple of miles down the road. I figured the odds were slim, but it couldn't hurt. A quick drive and $15 later, we were the proud owners of the appropriate saddle rack. Similarly, there was a tack shop in an antique barn adjacent to the equestrian center. They had my daughter's exact boots (a half-size too big, but she can wear an extra pair of socks). 

Done. And done. (I'm so done! And you wonder why I can't sleep?) Sometimes I have to question if it's all worth it.

A quick "good-bye" and we were on our way, without the gear, without the duffel, without our daughter. I miss her already. We'll head back to Vermont next weekend for a three-phase event (dressage, stadium jumping, cross-country). Two days later, we'll bring her home.

There's no cell service at the equestrian center where my daughter will spend 10 hours a day for the next 10 days. But, the house where she and 15 of the other girls are staying has WiFi. I received a text just as I was pulling into my driveway:

Thank you for everything mom < 3 i love you

Yeah, it's worth it.

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