Ole" Red This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 20, 2013
The barn, a place of childhood memories, a place of comfort and a place of pure happiness. A place I will always be able to call home. Pulling on to the uneven blacktop driveway of the barn are many familiar sights that have not changed since I was a little girl. To the right is the small red shed, with its tinted foggy windows and red creaking door that as a child no one was brave enough or dare to enter. This now reminds me of the innocence and gullibility of childhood. Behind the red shed lies the heap of manure where I can picture myself transferring countless wheel barrows of manure from the stalls to the heap, teaching myself the true definition of hard work.

Beyond the manure pile is the deep sand area. Where unused empty stalls lay and the dusty old radio softly plays country music. Here, I can not only remember but feel every fall I have ever had. In this arena is where I can apply the cliché quote of “when you fail, get up and try, try again”. The strongest memory I have in that arena is getting my small 11 year old boot stuck in the stir-up iron. While the horse had no intention of stopping, I was drug halfway around the area, face first in the sand where I could hear the “thump, thump, thump” of stampeding hooves that could crush me in seconds, directly next to my head. In that moment when I stood up smiling without a scratch on my body, I realized the fine line between miracle and tragedy and the positions of danger you are willing to put yourself in for something you love.

Near the arena is the barn, where the horses come to get a good night’s rest and eat so they will have enough energy to laze around in the pasture for the day ahead. As I walk through this barn I smile and enjoy the nickering of the horses and the smell that I have grown accustomed to. The fourth stall on the right is empty. Every time I walk past it I am reminded of a horse that was my best friend for 7 years. I can see her large dark brown head sticking through the broken rusted bars on the front of her stall door. I can imagine her soft light brown nose bobbing up and down searching for someone to show her any kind of affection, a kiss, a treat, or even just a little pat. She is a horse who taught me everything I needed to know about loving something unconditionally. She was a horse that through every brutal fall off and every stubborn lesson, taught me that not everything is easy. That cold winter night when I got the call that my best friend had been taken to run with the other thoroughbreds in heaven, tears streamed down my face, realizing good things come to an end much quicker than anyone ever expects and to never take anything for granted.
Walking to the back of the barn that is accompanied by more horses is the light switch that as a child I could never reach. I can picture myself climbing the brown gate near the switch and holding on for dear life as I used every inch to try and flip the switch from an upward to a downward position. Walking by this light switch now, I can reach and flip the switch with ease and grace, which makes me realize that things, whether they are good or bad, will not last.

Adjacent to the arena is the wide open green pasture where the amazing animals graze every day. Pleasant memories of galloping a gigantic thoroughbred down the length of the open field with my mother running behind me yelling “Rachel if you get hurt I swear to…”, rush through my head where I can picture myself rolling my eyes at my mother’s comment and thinking nothing bad will happen to me. I can feel the pure thrill and strength of the animal beneath me. Unpleasant memories of being chased by 24 stampeding hooves also flash into my head. Memories of my friends and I yelling “Run!” while scrambling into a nearby pond where the horses fearlessly followed is where I quickly came to the realization that in no situation, no matter how comfortable you are, you are ever safe.

Finally, behind the pasture is the big beautiful field that almost every night is accompanied by a stunning sun set. The gorgeous big red barn, little red shed, manure pile, empty stalls, light switches and the big beautiful pastures all hold sentimental value and memories. Memories that have taught me through the hustle and bustle of life, the insanity of sports, school, social life, and everything else that teenagers have to go through, the world is a beautiful yet dangerous place. But most importantly, the barn has taught me that I will always have somewhere to come back to and experience my child hood. When I come home from college or when I am visiting once I am living my own life, I will always be reminded of what true beauty is. After ten years of visiting this barn three times a week, walking by the same empty stall, easily flipping the light switch and carrying wheel barrels of manure, only now can I realize that this barn will always give me a place to call home.

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