It never gets any easier.
Driving away from people you care about is not an easy task and it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you do it; it always feels the same. Somehow it always manages to break my heart a little. I don’t know if it’s the thought that I might never see those people again, or simply the action of leaving people behind as I drive away, but something about it really gets me.
I’ve done it a few times now. When I finished my job at the college yard and I drove away after my last day ready to head to Ireland the following day, I felt that strange heartache as I accelerated up the road. Before that when I’d worked my final shift at Malvern St James and drove home, dropping my supervisor off at her house as I always used to, there it was; that weird pull that made me think about the fact I would probably never do that trip again.
Then I left a whole country to go home. I drove away from people I loved and it totally shattered me. That was definitely one of the hardest drives I’ve ever done, that trip from Kerry to my hotel before catching the ferry the next morning. It took some time to piece myself back together after that, to have the patience to rebuild the bits of me that had chipped away. But I got there.
And now I have done it again. Last night I left The Devils Horsemen. Having completed my notice period, the date finally came for me to pack my things into my little car (quite the squeeze I can tell you!) and head off to pastures new once more. It has not been easy to say goodbye to so many amazing people.
I do not like goodbye. It is a very final word and I think it is that finality which hurts me. Because I do not know for certain whether I will see those people again, and saying “goodbye” with such strength suggests I won’t. Which would be a genuine shame, as I have made some good friends and care a lot about them. It is always much harder than we initially think it will be to stay in touch with people, busy working lives give little time for the people who are not present.
I know for sure that I will miss my friends from the Devils. It is true that in that kind of living situation, you forge friendships out of convenience and necessity. Nevertheless, given time those friendships become something more real, something you will actually miss. I am a realistic kind of person. I do not know how successsful I will be in maintaining those friendships because my history at such endeavours shows me to be pretty rubbish at it. I shall try, however, as despite initially being friendships of convenience, I have come to appreciate each and every person that I met through the Devils. And after a year of living with them, working with them and drinking them, I should think they are worth it!
I will miss the horses too. Particularly the ones with which I had snuggles and fun rides and quiet moments on set. Epa, the ultimate cuddler, will be sorely missed of an evening. I used to have a lovely little cuddle every night on my way to my room when he was stabled there. Lovely darling of a horse despite his special moments. Benzel Bear and his gorgeous characterful face will leave a little hole in my heart. I have nothing but love for that horse. Something about him just makes me adore him. I could list and list the horses that I love, but I won’t. Instead I shall just remember the joy of riding some of them and the peace that came from being with them during those quieter moments. I am glad that I am coming away still with that understanding of why I love working with these animals.
This past year has been a total whirlwind of crazy, stressful, frustrating, wonderful, surreal, beautiful experiences. I have had the opportunity to ride as a double on film sets, perform in live shows and salute audiences as one of The Devils Horsemen (something I’d wanted to do since I first saw them perform). I have had low times, seen horses die, plotted the death of people out of utter frustration, and nearly packed my bags in the night. And I have had the highest of good times, enjoying the company of my friends and co-workers, riding some extremely special horses and being totally blown away by the totally unique and abnormal lifestyle I was immersed in.
I cannot say I regret a single day of it. Not one moment. My decision to leave came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I followed my instincts on it. I am the kind of person that needs to walk away from something before it goes sour, at the point at which I have those first feelings of “hum, I don’t know if I want to be here anymore.” If I don’t, I fall into a downward spiral of depression and resentment at the work I’m doing. I end up hating the job, the people and even the horses. I did not want to do that again, so I made the decision before I got to that point. My gut told me it was time to move on and find new opportunities, so that is exactly what I have done.
Those of you that know me will be aware of my considerable lack of emotional response sometimes. Suffice it to say, I was able to give everyone a hug (brief but heartfelt) and drive away without really feeling anything. It did strike me as strange to leave my room so empty, to have my car so full and to have everyone wishing me good luck as I got into my car. Maybe I lied earlier, maybe it does get easier. Perhaps I have driven away from enough people now that my soul just accepts it as an inevitable event. Who knows?!
For now, I am almost out of words. It only remains for me to send a quick message to my friends that I have just driven away from.
You are wonderful. Every single one of you. I thank you for you friendship and for your quirks and your individual selves. I hope you never stop being who you are. I will miss you, all of you. I am glad I got to know you, even a little bit, that I worked with you and drank with you and shared some of this completely insane place with you. I have gained from knowing each of you, whether or not you realise that, and I will take that forward with me. I will not forget you crazy bunch. I hope that you will not forget me too quickly either. I do not know whether I will see you again, but if I do I’ll bring the wine if you bring some gossip and a few beers. I love you guys.
I am delighted that for a year of my life I was well and truly a Devils Horseman (Hey!)
I have nothing further to add.