Very strong in my mind's eye. A dark, grey line, one inch long.
Today in the MRI, I wanted to transport myself from the moment, the clanging and buzzing that actually soothes me because I know that answers might be found.
So, I went to that familiar place...
...settling the saddle pad onto Shadow's back in just the right place, a little forward and then sliding it backward a bit so the hair will lie all one direction, flat.
....swinging the saddle just right so stirrups and cinches will float over his back and settle lightly onto the pad and yet not bang the stirrup and cinches into his "off" elbow.
.... going to the off side, letting down the cinches, hanging the breast collar over the horn neatly so I can grab it from the other side.
....I rode that saddle for 21 years. Twelve of them on Shadow. And I haven't ridden in a year and a half. My sister, 3000 miles away, owns that saddle now.
...back to the near side, I reach under and grab the cinch, then loop the latigo through it, hands moving by habit, learned, memory, muscle movement that will not become unlearned, will not be forgotten.
....buckle up the back cinch...just so.
....then reach under his neck for the breast collar, which I have freed from the saddle horn with my right hand, and take the leather strap and feed it through the ring and back to the buckle.
There it is, the dark, gray line. Across the leather strap, it reflects right where the buckle has rubbed it for over 12 years on this sturdy little horse. It guides me to know the right fit, the correct hole in which to place the tongue of the buckle. It is always the right fit if I use that line as my guide.
Of all the things that could stick in my mind while lying flat in a clanging MRI in a hospital in Oregon, my wedding ring vibrating from the magnetic pounding and the back of my head hurting on the flat table; my legs full of neuro-pain from this supine position, my eyes closed for the 30 minute test, earplugs firmly stuffed into both ears, right arm wrapped in "vet wrap" to hold the cotton ball over the injection site
...of all things, I focus on that one-inch, metallic gray crease on the breast collar strap of my old Salisbury saddle, now in a tack room at a stable in New Hampshire.