Monday, April 29, 2013

The Pony Farm



Many years ago, on a summer day, high on some psychedelic substance, I was a passenger in a van with three other people who also were high. J and L were a couple, and they were sitting in the back. D was driving, and I sat beside him in the front seat, though we were not a couple--a fact I was well aware of. Not that I wanted to be a couple with him necessarily, nor he with me, but I wanted to be a couple with SOMEONE, and J and L were likely canoodling in the back. They were an intense couple . . . always processing this or that, their conflicts, their hurts and misunderstandings. So there were all these vibes. And it was summer . . . straw hats and T-shirts, bare feet and cutoffs.

We lived in Ann Arbor, but we had been driving around for a while, somewhat directionless adventurers, and we were out on country roads--the green of summer, the song and screech of summer insects all around us, the dust of the road rising up around us. After a while, D suggested that we go to the pony farm. He said it as if he knew the place, as if he'd been there before, as if he knew how to find it. I didn't know anything about any pony farm--where or what it was, or even if I'd want to be there. I'd never been a horse-girl, though I knew others who had been--who knew how to ride, who went to horseback-riding camps, who took lessons, and so forth. I didn't know, really, what one did at a pony farm, but we all agreed, Why not?

But it seemed that he didn't really know how to get there, and it did seem that we were going in circles. A few times, when we saw people along the road, he'd stop and ask directions to the pony farm. One time it was a man, and he gave a set of incomprehensible (to me) directions as I watched a skinny green caterpillar or worm or some such climb up the side of his neck. D thanked him, and we drove on.

As we went, I began to develop this thought or question about the pony farm, which I articulated by saying, "Are we really going to the pony farm?" The answer, as I recall, was yes, if we could find it. But it didn't seem that we could find it, and so I asked my question again, and again. I tried other ways of asking it, but I could not figure out how to explain what I meant, and I believe that my companions became annoyed with me and my question, about which I was dead serious.

We never did get to the pony farm because, I think, D could not find it. Instead, we ended up at a beach, where we all ran into the lake and dove in, fully clothed.

All these years later, after I have worked so hard and long to learn about words and how to find the ones that say precisely what I mean, I still am not certain I can explain, but I can at least get closer. What I wanted to know was whether the "pony farm" was a real place or whether it was a metaphor for a place that one seeks but cannot quite find, whether the childlike sound of the metaphor was intended to reflect something about the stage of life we were in (just finished with college), whether we four were on a journey of discovery that went beyond any particular destination, which for some reason that day had the title of pony farm.

I expect the answer would have been yes and no.
Addendum:
Now it is 8/12/15, and last night I was on the phone with L from the above story. I was also on the phone with J, who is not the J of the above story, but a completely different J, but this J on the phone last night knew all of us during this era. With L and J on the phone (via conference call), the story of that era of our friendship and the pony farm came up. And this morning, I have finally settled on a simpler, more precise way of explaining what I meant by "Are we really going to the pony farm?"

What I meant was, "Is this a dream? And if it is, how do I interpret it? What is the meaning of the central image pony farm? Why is that the destination in this dream?"