Monday, May 17, 2010

When I Grow Up

When I was eight, I wanted to be a rider and a mother when I grew up. I wanted a little farm, a trusted mount (a 17.1 hand black stallion, please), a trio of  children. I wanted a handsome and athletic husband (not to kiss, though—ick!), a pair of cats, and a trusted dog at my side. I wanted a bunny, a garden, and a tame, vegetarian peregrine falcon. I loved writing, riding, drawing, singing. I loved animals.

When I was 18, I wanted to be a rider, an artist, an environmental scientist. I declared myself a pre-art major.

When I was 19, I wanted to be a rider, a kayaker, and an anthropologist. I took science classes.

When I was 20, I wanted to be a rider, an animal rights activist, and a magazine writer. I studied journalism, got pregnant, and sold my horse. I looked down my nose at ovolactovegetarians.

When I was 23 I graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English, and with regrets for not having taken a minor in government. I wanted to be a lawyer, and wanted to marry Mat and raise my daughter M without it getting in the way of an animal law career. I fell off the vegan wagon. I ate ice cream.

When I was 24 I turned down a full scholarship to a great law school. I got married. I had a second child. I moved home to Whidbey. I bought a horse.

I've been trying ever since to decide what I want to be when I grow up, and it hasn't been easy. I have swung from seeing my life as a serious of missed opportunities and false starts to seeing it as a trajectory towards happiness . . . a meandering path to exactly where I wanted to be all along.

I'm still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm 30 years old—turning 31 in a couple of weeks—and I am not sure if I should study nursing. Not sure if I need to. Not sure if I can afford to. Not sure if I can afford not to. Not sure if I can ever make writing pay, and not sure if I'm closing a door by thinking so.

But what I am sure of is this:  I love writing, riding, drawing, singing. I love animals. I want to be a rider and a mother. I want a little farm, a trusted mount (a 14.1 hand brown mule, please), a trio of children, a handsome and athletic husband (to kiss and everything), a pair of cats, a trusted dog. A bunny, a garden, and a tame, vegetarian herd of dairy goats. Not sure about that falcon anymore, but then people change as they grow.

Dreams evolve.

Life unfolds.

(Photos above: riding Sophie at age 8ish; doing homework with Echo Bunny at age 9ish.
Photos below: riding Fenway at age 30, holding Harriet at age 30.)


  1. Hello,

    I am 28, a teacher, a writer, and a rider. I live in San Francisco, so it's pretty hard to do all those things all at the same time! I also want to have a small farm and continue to be a teacher, writer, and rider, but also raise quail and grow all my own vegetables. I would also like to have my own horse to ride, instead of leasing someone else's. However, I can't seem to figure out how to make all this happen. Do you have any advice for a similarly-minded fellow-traveler? Also, I think our rabbit friends should talk :)



  2. Hey Erin! I grew up in Oakland/Piedmont, CA . . . . where you do ride??

    I'd love to talk more.

  3. Hi Marnie,

    Worrying that nursing school would diminish your blogs, I selfishly hope you will push through the struggle and that eventually some revenue will present itself. Your writings are are intimate, funny and honest, I read them and laugh and I read them aloud to Loren too if he is too busy to take the time. I want to send you big support to continue what you love...

    PS I've been in Santa Cruz for fifteen years, but I lived & worked in the East Bay for 25 years. I love Oakland...

  4. Dear lady, I am 25 and still seeing my life as a series of missed opportunities and false starts. Reading this post was good medicine (and I've been happily muttering "meandering towards happiness" to myself all day). Thank you!

  5. Thank you all for the feedback and the encouragement! Having readers out there who connect with what I write is what makes blogging worth it. I appreciate it.

  6. You must know by now how much I love FB's blog..but did you know I adore this one, too? You write so many things that others can relate to. I find myself nodding in agreement to many things!

    When I wa growing up I wanted horses, dogs, a husband, 6 kids (what was I thinking?!) a small farm, and to be a large animal vet.

    Instead, I stopped riding, dropped out of college, got married, and had three kids (in less than 2.5 yrs).

    I feel like I've lost myself over the Years. I've done nothing but follow my husband around for the last 8 of our 10 years, while he pursues his dream of becoming a physician. It's damn near sucked us dry.

    I'm hopeful that I can find myself and work towards some of my own dreams...soon, when I grow up :)

    Thank you for being so open with your thoughts.

  7. Dearest Marnie,

    When I was 8 I was going to be a vet, an olympic rider and the Prime Minister, all while living in a luxury treehouse on a zillion acres with its own beach and pod of killer whales - I obviously grew up on the West Coast too.

    When I was 18 I was going to be an environmental scientist who would buy back the horse I had just sold as soon as I graduated, have a PhD by the time I was 25 and would at that time be already well set up in my ocean side farm with a fabulous boyfriend.

    When I was 23 I found myself thousands of kilometers from my own beach and whales and old horse, in a stinking hot/freezing cold city, finishing a degree in political science. I was still going to save the environment somehow, find my old horse, and get that farm.

    Now I'm almost 30, still in the aforementioned urban cesspool (at least to me - apparently millions love it), finishing a second degree in polisci and making plans to start anew. My old horse is no longer with us, I am not a scientist, am not likely to 'save the environment' and will never be able to afford my BC paradise. Instead I'm heading to the east coast - land of cheap real estate and extended family, have no idea what I'm going to do for a living, am most certainly not going to the olympics or Parliament Hill, but have figured out what will make me happy. I'm going to have a small farm (2 acres or so to start), a lovely garden, a couple of goats, a couple of horses, a fantastic partner, and a tight budget.

    When we grew up we were supposed to do it all. I am grateful for your ability to put this phase into context, and grateful that you take the time to do so.

  8. Love the feedback. Thanks, readers—your comments mean a lot to me, and make this life of mine feel all the more worthwhile. It's important to keep dreaming, but also to see the beauty right before us, I suppose . . .


  9. How did I not know that you had an Echo bunny?


Thanks in Advance for Your Mulish Opinion!