Hop on the Horse

Delta Winds cover 2007Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


Hop on the Horse

Nina Peñalosa

One November night, I stood on the upper level of the K Street mall in Sacramento overlooking a carousel. As I observed the blue feathers protruding atop each horse's head, I pulled a camera out of my purse and began to snap away, but every picture I took turned out a blur. So I put the camera away, stuck my hands in my pockets and drifted into thought. The horses brought back childhood memories of My Little Pony and that time in kindergarten I said if I were the President of the United States of America, I'd ride a horse.

Two little girls quickly interrupted me and my thoughts. I watched them run excitedly towards the carousel I had been staring at down below. As they shoved their dollar bills in the ticket machine, I couldn't help but envy them. Smiles were plastered on their faces as they raced up the ramp and darted towards a circular booth in between two horses that allowed them to spin around as fast as they pleased, like the teacups at Disneyland. A buzzer sounded and away they went. Their almond-shaped eyes were shut tight as they mustered all the strength they had to steer the silver wheel before them. Infectious laughter echoed through the cool night breeze and into my ears.

I found myself envious of them because they were still young, innocent and most likely full of wonder about the world around them. At the age of twenty-one, I haven't lived my life to the fullest, but I've experienced an abundance of emotions and situations a child would have never dreamed of. I feel that as we grow older, our innocence begins to fade away much like yesterday and the day before. Much of my innocence and naïveté has since faded into distant memories.

The carousel reminded me of a trip to Disneyland when I was about five or six. Auntie Nelly went on King Arthur's Carousel with me and strapped me onto a white steed. After buckling me in with the brown leather strap, she turned her head and looked for another horse. "I'll be right over there, Nina. Ok?" she said. I turned around. Her finger was pointing at the horse behind me. The horse was too far behind. I began to whine, "No! Don't leave me!" Auntie Nelly assured me that she wouldn't be far away. I protested with a pouted lip and she begrudgingly stood by my white steed and me. I grasped the golden pole and smiled as I went up and down, round and round in Fantasyland.

As I watched the girls spin rapidly while the carousel went round and round, I thought life is a carousel. It's a ride that goes around in circles while taking its passengers on a journey enduring great highs and lows.

Life throws us situations where we experience great euphoria. When I was in fifth grade, Auntie Nelly discovered that airfare to Italy was quite reasonable. Before I knew it, I was on my way to Italy with her and my older sister, Nikki. I was absolutely ecstatic. Every day before I left, I always told my friends, "I'm going to Italy! That's out of the country!" That annoyed them greatly, but I didn't care-I was going to have real Italian pizza for crying out loud!

Then there are the unexpected moments in which we fall into an abyss of sadness. I recently just lost my grandpa a week before my birthday. For two years, Papa was in a nursing home, but he had been ill and bedridden for the last seven or nine years. My family was aware that he could go any day. Still, I wasn't prepared to say goodbye. At the nursing home, my face was tear-stained as I held Papa's warm hand. I didn't say a word, not even "I love you." Two days later he was gone.

Sometimes our world spins out of control, like those little girls in the spinning booth. Finals week always makes me insane. My head gets bombarded with worried thoughts and tons of questions. Should I write notes about this section? What if it's not even on the exam? Last semester, in the middle of studying for Natural Resources, I started crying just because the stress drove me to the point where I wondered if I was still sane.

But no matter what, we have to hop on the horse and enjoy the ride-ups and downs included and, for the most part, by ourselves. The horse is for us to mount alone. No one can stand by our side for the whole journey. Like in life, we can't always hold someone's hand to protect us from the good or the bad.

All rides must come to an end. For the amount of time we all have on the carousel that is life, I realize that I need to remember to enjoy the ride. If not, it will all be over before I know it and the only thing I'll have to look back on is a blurred picture.