In This Barn

An Essay By Nikki // 6/5/2007

This barn is twenty-five years old and for three years I have been pretending it belongs to me. This barn is where I spend sixty hours of every week, the place to which I devote all of my time and energy in exchange for the shelter of my beloved horses. This barn holds twelve horses and half of them have left hoofprints in my heart.

This barn is beautiful. It is enormous, built from strong timbers, lit by skylights along the vaulted ceiling. It will weather any hurricane. It could be crumbled with a single flame. It is home to two cats and thousands of spiders. Barn swallows nest in the rafters and butterflies fall into summer tragedy, their wings torn in mid-flight by the cruel blades of the fan. This barn borders a rushing creek, a developing marshland, an enchanted forest of young pine. This barn is a haven. This barn is a home. This barn is where I am growing into adulthood, one awkward step at a time.

In this barn more than two hundred children have passed through the doors and found themselves transported to the heights of a horse’s back. In this barn, a dying girl has sought refuge in a gentle Arabian who can make her forget her troubled short life. In this barn, an autistic child can compete on the same level as her less challenged peers. In this barn, friendships form... and fade. In this barn, lessons are learned, and passed on... or forgotten. In this barn, boys and girls turn into young men and women. They play hard, ride hard, fall hard. They get back up again.

In this barn I have looked death in the eye. I have watched the light go out of two horse’s eyes and their memory will haunt me forever. I have watched my invincible pony age and become mortal. I have been let down. I have let down others. I have struggled, time and time again, with the idea that I can’t save everyone.

This barn has seen me fall in love. This barn has seen my self-assurance stripped away, watched me take steps that were unsure and vulnerable. In this barn I have found words in me hard to say, words deeper than I’d ever known. In this barn I have been terrified by loss, exhilarated with the new sensation of being desired. This barn has seen me cry more tears than I’ve ever cried before. This barn has seen me shaken with joy. This barn has seen my first kiss, my first dizzy steps into a new world.

This barn has shadows. This barn has ghosts. This barn has memories of things I would rather forget. Every time I’ve ever lost my temper with a horse, or with a student. Well-placed kicks and frightened children on runaway ponies, running headlong into a barrel in front of dozens of people, mistakes, fights I wish had never happened. There are heartaches here. There are hardships here. There are always too many stalls to clean.

There are also dazzling summer thunderstorms, rainbows arching across the sky. There are clear gold September evenings, heart-pounding gallops and achingly beautiful red sunsets. There is a precious little horse that might have died if this barn had not been here to give him a home. There are children working hard instead of roaming the streets or getting pregnant. There are smiles, those first jumping lessons or those light bulb moments that no one can ever take away from me. There are endings, there are beginnings. There is patience and kindness rewarded. There is love, there is commitment. There is the impermanence of life. There are the steps taken every day towards the person I am supposed to be, the person Alyssa is supposed to be, the person we’re all supposed to be. This barn is sanctuary. This barn will always be a part of me, woven in the fabric that makes up my life.

And there, this barn will live until the day I die.



That was beautiful. W.O.W.

Falling Leaves-unschooler, horse lover, and obsesser over writing, reading and proper grammar.

E | Thu, 09/11/2008

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I can't believe I've never

I can't believe I've never seen this before...this is one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long, long time...thank you sooooo much. I got chills reading this, and as anyone who knows me will tell you--that's a huge compliment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

LoriAnn | Thu, 07/01/2010


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