It’s almost two years since I left London behind and moved back in with my parents. It’s my second “boomerang” (my first being when I left university and didn’t manage to get a job straight away, thus not having the funds to support independent living), and as I have lived away from home, I have far more stuff than is able to fit properly into my childhood bedroom.
Many of my things live in the garage, but that’s mostly large items like kitchen equipment, all awaiting their next starring moment when I manage to break away again, currently neglected like abandoned toys. The remainder of my possessions are crammed into the bedroom which has been mine for 20 years this summer. When I say “crammed”, I’m actually very lucky to have a pretty sizeable amount of storage: our house is what my Mum refers to as a “modern box”, and thus comes with fitted wardrobes. Mine is the second of our four bedrooms and – a little perversely, I’ve always felt – somehow has the largest wardrobe (I managed to land the second bedroom because, in our previous house, I had the smallest room in the building, so it was my “turn” to have the larger room. Sort of sucks for my sister that my tenure in the smallest room was two years, and my stretch in the bigger room is 20 and counting…).
My return to the nest in the spring of 2013 was less than two months prior to my departure for my first round at camp. During that time, I spent a week in Greece, a weekend away with university friends and a lot of time stressing about my visa, packing and what the hell I was doing. As a consequence, I spent zero time attending to my bulging wardrobe, straining under the weight of a set of clothes which had previously been housed across two abodes.
I failed to address the situation last winter when I was home, mainly because I was confused. I had managed to slim my wardrobe down a little, partly because I’d slimmed down, and some of my clothes therefore no longer fitted (and I had no intention of allowing myself to get big enough for them again). I had also cut back my business-wear section (as I had no intention of returning to a full-time office-based career ever again), but had been conservative in this cull, in case of an emergency. Said emergency did occur last spring, and I was relieved that I had enough clothes to get me through a temporary stint in an office… though resolved that I wouldn’t even do a short-term run of that again.
I finally cracked for two reasons: I was struggling to both find and house clothes; I threw away a pair of jeans which had become too loose, and thought “Well, why not tackle the rest?”. I approached the first section, and duly got a little emotional, and a lot amused. It was one of those things which could easily be a chick flick movie montage, because I started with my dresses. Some of them I’d owned for over six years, most of them purchased for nights out to celebrate friends’ birthdays at university. I thought back to the person I was, tried each dress on and alternately laughed and cried. There were some surprises amongst the dresses, but more surprises when I got to a couple of boxes of, well, junk, at the bottom of the wardrobe.
There’s a lot of old paperwork – former household bills, contracts and other bits – which I need to shred or burn, but there were also some gems. Here’s what I found:
Olympia ticket and Puissance start list
My sister and I were really geeky when we went to professional competitions. We liked to make little notes about the combinations we saw. Some of them were nothing more than “horse had swishy tail”, others related to jumping faults or what we thought of the rider. Either way, I’m glad I kept these. Sadly, I don’t remember much about the evening, other than being really excited to finally be attending this famous show. It’s my only visit to date, but I’d love to go again. In the meantime, I have these mementoes
Competing wasn’t the main thrust of what we did when we were kids. We were nowhere compared to the flashy Pony Club types, and I’m actually glad of that. We just went to enjoy ourselves. Our ponies normally had stable stains and green lips. Most of the show jumps we attempted could be cleared from a backwards amble. We were entered into classes such as “Prettiest Mare” and “Handsomest Gelding” (I know – cringe). But we enjoyed ourselves. On the back of each of these, I’ve written the date, venue, classes I entered and how we did (spot the Event Manager-in waiting), but I’d totally forgotten I kept them at all.
Dressage test sheets
These are probably the most embarrassing items. They’re the only two dressage tests I’ve ever ridden, on my shared ex-racehorse who thought he was a giraffe. After the second one (the one with the lower score), my instructor’s comment was, “I think next time, you’ll ride in spurs.” There was no next time, but I didn’t mind. They’re definitely experiences which framed my opinion of dressage as a waste of time – I’ve progressed a little since then, but it’s still not my idea of fun. Probably because I never removed myself from the memory of being towed around by a horse who was completely behind the bit and wouldn’t canter when asked (but would probably have quite happily galloped).
So there’s a glimpse into my past! Which mementoes – besides photos and rosettes – have you kept from your early horse days?