I always wanted to ride side saddle. I always wanted to wear a black, skin-tight riding habit – like Catherine 'Skittles' Walters, whom rumor had it, was sewn into her habit: the sections stitched together as she stood patiently in her flimsy undergarments. If she wore any at all – and very few knew that for sure…well, only the well-paying ones.
I always wanted to ride to hounds. But with no killing involved. And with no one getting 'blooded'. I wouldn't be interested in riding home with a smear of blood on my forehead to honor my first 'kill'. In fact, there'd be no honor in it at all.
But I want my blood to be stirrred. I want to mill amongst the black, pink and red coats. I would like to finger a delicate glass filled with something dark and mildly alcoholic as I keep my seat. I want to keep my horse calm, as the dogs fume and push at its legs like a nervous, active sea.
I want to ride. I want to crash through hedgerows and brush, thunder through the crisp and misty morning, tinged with autumn, scented with the burning wood of distant fireplaces.
But I've had none of that. I've done none of that. I've worn none of that.
But this morning I got just a hint of what I was wishing for.
I was walking to work, looking and listening. I saw in the distance someone walking their dog. A small, multi-colored animal, rather low to the ground. But it wasn't silent. It wasn't barkiing. It was baying. A sound you don't hear in the city. As I came closer I saw that this lively creature was a beagle, pulling at its leash, with its eager nose to the ground: lifting it up only to emit its thrilling, yodeling cry.
As it passed me, on some search-and-discover mission known only to itself, its owner – a lithe, attractive, gray-haired woman – gasped to me: "Where'd that fox go?"
How that made me smile. I was smiling when I crossed the street. I was smiling when I turned the corner. I was still smiling when I got to work.