Get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for your continuing knee pain. Find out that your legs aren’t in straight alignment. Your knees are angled to the inside, but your hip and ankle are straight — so every time you step down your knee cap grinds out. Hear it’s super common in women, but most don’t show symptoms until their 50’s. Because you’re active, you have pain a lot earlier. Learn it’s not curable. Start thinking about what chronic pain might feel like. Wonder how long you’ll be able to ride.
Get rejected from a literary magazine. One that you knew was a little bit of a stretch, but thought you had a chance. Tell yourself not to be disappointed. Ignore your own advice.
Dislike your classes this quarter. Have a hard time getting motivated for the last bit of the academic year before summer. Get less feedback from professors. Wonder more about what exactly your end goal is with this program.
Have a terrible lesson. Realize it’s not your horse, because he is fitter and better trained every time you sit on him. He’s doing changes for the trainer, and he’s even doing changes for you sometimes… but not when you give up and do nothing but sit there and be frustrated cantering in a small circle. End the lesson almost in tears, but without having any idea why you actually want to cry.
Lose some weight, but not as much as you want. Grab the ring of fat that’s left around your stomach with both hands. Look at the mirror, lifting the skin of your sagging boobs. Pinch the loose underside of your arm. Think about how much further you have to go. Ask yourself if you’ll feel happier about yourself when you get there.
Revise the chapter of your book where your dog dies. Realize readers will need to know more of her backstory to care about the loss, so recreate that on the page so they fall a little in love with her. Fall a little in love with her again too. Watch your old spaniel get slower as the days go by. Carefully wake him up from deep sleep by slowly stroking him on the head, because he gets scared when he can’t hear you come home and you surprise him. Try not to ask yourself how many years are left before you have to make the same decision for him.
Try to date a little. Chat with boring men, entitled men, men with broken english, men who think you should be grateful they’re giving you attention. Go on a date with someone perfectly acceptable. Feel nothing. Decline any messages with anyone named Tim or Timothy. Blame Southern California for why you’re single. Blame yourself. Start to realize you can’t find anyone because you don’t want to find anyone. That you’d rather move back than forward.
Get rejected from a summer writing workshop, one that you only applied to because you were sure you’d get in… probably even with a scholarship. Realize you’re not as good as you think you are.
Miss home. Miss your friends there. Make a plan to go back as soon as you can, but secretly worry that everyone will have moved on without you and life won’t be as happy there as it was before. Not-so-secretly worry that your life may never be as good as it was before.
Have a pretty okay lesson, but forget to leg enough to a jump. Get tilted forward when your horse jumps it close and then whacks his hind leg on the pole. Get smashed in the face by his neck when he pops his head up in surprise. Pet his neck and tell him it’s okay while you check to see if your nose is broken. The next day when your upper lift has swollen enough to give you a beak, joke with your friend that you finally have full lips up to LA’s beauty standards. Realize you haven’t worn makeup in days, been skipping your skincare routine and stopped using the magic browning lotion that made your legs look less pasty and white. Notice all the sun damage on your skin when you inspect your deeply bruised lip and nose. Sigh deeply.
Keep as many friends around you at all times as a coping mechanism — so you don’t feel so alone. When said friends get busy and involved in their own lives, try not to let it get you down. Get down anyway. Realize that you can be surrounded by a hundred people in a room, and still be alone. Stop making social plans.
Tell yourself you just need a big day of productivity to get yourself feeling chipper again. Plan to bust it out of the park! Meet a roadblock with work, a broken website. Spend hours with tech support. Have technical projects with the educational grant project you’re working on this quarter. Realize your internet at the apartment is down. Call another tech support. Go check the mail while you wait for the technician, and find a violation from the city regarding your tenants. Feel too defeated to write. Take a deep breath, close the computer and walk the five steps to the couch.
Lay down, and sigh.