Daughter and I showed up at the county fair at 5:30 am. While I watched the sun rise over the carnival’s ferris wheel, she carried the muck bucket, soothed the horse while her mane was braided, and pitched in wherever she could. Whatever task she was doing, no matter how–literally–shitty it was, daughter was suffused with joy and pride. One of the other girls from her barn was showing at the fair, but if you asked my daughter, she’d say that the Horse was showing. So proud she is, of that Horse.
So that’s how I spent the better part of a day at the county fair. I pretty much sat around and watched this horse we know jump, canter, etc.
Throughout the summer, my daughter has seldom talked about her dad. But when we have passed the fairground this summer, she’d share little snippets of memory: “Last year–when Horse won a blue ribbon!–we walked down the street to the cafe for lunch.” With your teacher, I’d ask? No, she’d answer; with Daddy. At the fair this week, I’d noticed the teacher with a peace sign on her arm. I never took her for a peacenik and promptly dismissed it. But as we left for a break midday, daughter pointed out that teacher had a re-entry stamp, and I’d need to get one; Daddy had gotten one last year.
She tells the stories and I receive them without undue sentiment. They are facts. The memories come flooding back. And new ones layer over them. We pretty much spent this year’s fair looking forward. She wants to show next year, and she was viewing the horse prep, the competition, and the girls’ clothing with an eye toward how she’d do it next year. My mind raced to figure out how I could clear my teaching and research schedule to show up at horse stalls at the crack of dawn through dinner time, and how son would spend his days because–woah–these horse shows are time consuming.