A defining moment...
I think of the big moments, but the times my life has really taken the twists and turns that have defined it's course, is in small, almost random decisions.
Like the one I made to take up horseback riding. Because my boyfriend complained that there was nothing to do where I lived, which meant that every weekend I should be the one to commute to him in New York City. Never mind, we should have been able to be happy together anywhere, but that's another story...
I lived in an area a colleague called a haven for the very weatlthy, and the doing pretty well but poor in comparison. I had a pretty 4 room co-op apartment on the grounds of what had once been a grand estate. There were several stables nearby, where the elite kept their horses and elite little girls took riding lessons.
My boyfriend rode horses, so in the interests of developing my ability to do this along with him, at these very stables near my home, I signed up. Little did I know, this was the pinnacle action that would do nothing to further my closeness to my boyfriend, but would eventually trot me right to my husband's arms.
But first, I had to be injured. I was riding Erin, the docile horse for beginners. We were trotting along merrily. Suddenly, Erin stopped and lowered her head to take a nibble of grass. My body did not stop. I felt myself about to head right down her neck and off of her. I had a flash of myself head injured in an intensive care unit. I tucked my left thumb into the reins and leaned to the left to grasp the fence right nearby. Then Erin started her trot again. I was half on the fence. My thumb was in the rein.
Not a life threatening injury, but my thumb looked funny and hurt too much for me to see if it moved. I already disliked the muckiness and the bounciness of the horseback riding, the way Erin totally ignored my kicks, and now all I could think was, this relationship booster was not worth the trouble this injury will cause.
The next day I went to work and showed it to one of the orthopedic surgeons. In the dim hallway light and in the five o'clock shadow he wore at 7:30 in the morning, I could see his grim expression. I'd torn an important ligament. My thumb would never be the same. It would cause me some bit of trouble doing procedures. There was nothing to do for it other than splint it for 10 weeks while it heals. The bright side was I'd never be caught by suprise by the rain, because I could count on getting arthritis that would cause pain before every storm.
We had a former chairman, professor emeritus, who offered me acupuncture. Sure. Ten weeks later I took off the splint and had therapy. A few weeks later, my hand was perfect. I could hardly remember which hand I'd injured. And there I was, director of the pain clinic, and I couldn't do that for anyone. So I told my chairman I was obligated to learn acupucture.
He agreed to the principle, but wouldn't give me the time off for the program I selected. When he was on vacation, I learned about another program that was on a different schedule. Admission was almost closed. I applied for the program and by the time my chairman returned, I was in and had paid my deposit. Now he had to let me go.
I got to the course, jet laggy, and tired. I was still recoverying from emergency surgery for a sudden life threatening condition. I was a little late the first morning. I entered the large conference room, full of mostly men, a few women. In the back row, tipping his chair on the back legs, was a lanky guy nonchalantly running his hands through luxuriant hair. Our eyes locked. He looked like a surfer. There was an empty seat next to him. I turned my gaze a little further toward the front of the room and went to sit next to someone less – less – well, someone less --- I don't know. I didn't know, had no idea, no clue, never would have imagined what I know now, that in that moment I walked away from the really cute guy whose hair looked like gold in the sun, who looked like the sort who could have anything in the world he wanted, but who I didn't know sat there having lost his dreams and trying to take his life back, that I was walking away from my future husband.
It was quite a while after that first glance at each other, that we got together. Still, though it turned out our paths almost crossed many times before, I might never had met him had I not one day drove past a stable while pondering my boyfriend trouble, said to myself, maybe I should learn to ride a horse.