I was a fearful person then, the sort who sneaks into the baby's room during naps to make sure he's breathing, the sort who imagines every latecomer in a traffic accident. I had always loved horses though, had ridden as a teenager, and thought riding a horse might be a more fun way to lose the last 15 pounds of a late pregnancy than riding a NordicTrack with my eyes glued to the Weather Channel, watching for tornado warnings (I lived in Iowa then).
The horse had been around—most recently he had lived in a field with a bunch of other horses, and before that, who knew? But he was kind and easy to ride, and most important, the second morning that I knew him, he nickered at me. That was flattering, like having a nice man call you darling but without any overtones of sexual harassment. I meant to ride three times a week because, of course, I had a baby and other children and a husband and a career and a house and houseguests. But there I was, four days, five days, six days a week, not just riding the horse but taking lessons, asking questions, hanging around the barn, buying equipment. I was right about the pounds—they were gone in a month—but I was wrong about everything else, namely that I was an established grown-up with habits and some sort of unchanging identity.