I call myself a multi-tasker, but that is a lie, a phrase that I cheerfully attach to myself because it makes me sound efficient and modern. Friends helpfully encourage this delusion by saying things like, “Gosh, you are so clever with technology!” and I take it to mean that because I have seven or eight tabs on Google Chrome open (four of which are different variations of social media) plus Twitter, not to mention the fact that I am often working on two different computers at the same desk simultaneously, I actually am an efficient, modern, multi-tasker.
But I am not, not really. The sad truth is, I can only do one thing at a time. I have a one-track mind. I just jump the tracks from time to time.
This past weekend, my husband, son, and I joined a friend’s family at their house in Upstate New York. We don’t leave the city very often, and when we do, it’s usually for a less-than-bucolic destination, like Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia. The greenest place we have been since moving from our Florida farm to a Brooklyn apartment house, nearly one year ago, has been Prospect Park. Or possibly, if you count the infield as greenspace, Belmont Park.
Hopping out of the car in the stone driveway of the country house, my brain immediately found the switch to an old track. The property spanned thirty-five acres, and the house was surrounded by a lovely clearing of deep grass. I could keep a horse here, I thought, before my feet swung out of the car and into the gravel. Right here. All I’d need to do is update the perimeter fencing and put a gate in.
“I could put a Thoroughbred here,” I confided to my husband. “I could get a retiree and ride him on weekends.”
“No you couldn’t,” he told me. “You couldn’t ride for fun. It isn’t in you.”
He was right, of course, and as the weekend progressed, I had the fun of observing my imagination’s tendency to run rampant with its own obsessiveness. Walking in the beautiful woods that covered the property, I mentally constructed a cross-country course with a hanging log, a sunken road, and a water splash. The seasonal stream would have to receive a well and a pump in order to run year-round, but it would be worthwhile.
We walked down the road in front of the property and I pointed how where I would restore the tumble-down stone wall and add black-board fencing.
We examined the site of the old barns and I lamented that anyone would buy a working farm and turn it into a barn-less, pasture-less wasteland of forest and garden.
We went for a drive and I exclaimed over the wastefulness of huge acreage used as nothing but lawns, without a horse to be seen. What is grass for, but galloping and grazing?
By the end of the weekend, something I’d often suspected had been confirmed. I am not a casual horsewoman. I am not a casual anything. If I someday indulge in weekly riding lessons again, as I have been daydreaming of since I quit riding at the racetrack back in December, it will not be a pleasant diversion from staring at the computer screen for hours on end. It might start that way, but about fifteen minutes into the first riding lesson - at most - I will be mentally scheming for ways to obtain a horse, by whatever means necessary, and compete it at Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event within four years. I just can’t help it. I can’t have hobbies or do things for fun. I have to do one thing, obsessively.
Perhaps I’m better off sitting tight in the city, steadfastly resisting the urge to ride my bicycle down to the little stables about half a mile away and beg for a job (I’ve already done this once, and apparently I’m not the only one, because they never called me!). I want to write, and in order to write, I have to do nothing else. I have to write, obsessively.
About horses. Of course.