I’m really confused about how my life is going to go in the future. I know what I want to, I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.
My plan was to go either UCSB, Stanford, USC, or a college in Australia to study Marine Biology and/ or Environmental Science. I would then go to law school and become an environmental lawyer. At college, I would swim and play water polo.
Well, now I’m really in to running. I love triathlons too. I know I’m going to play sports in college, but which ones?
Recently I’ve been thinking about become a humane officer. It pains me to know that so many animals are suffering and abused. I want to dedicate my life to stopping the cruelty that takes place everyday. I want to do this, but there are some issues.
A humane officer makes 32,000 dollars annually. I don’t have millions of dollars in family money, I don’t have a billion dollars in my bank account, and I want to stay in California. I’m afraid 32,000 dollars would not be enough to have a home, a car, and eventually kids.
So, my plan is now to stick with being an environmental lawyer. I still really want to be a humane officer though…
Again, on the topic of money, I realized that I’m not going to have enough money to go to any of the colleges I want to go to. I could go to junior college. It would save a lot of money and I can save up for my next two years at a university.
I also want to take a gap year and go to the Peace Corps…
Will I go straight to a four year school? I wonder where I’m going to live after college? What college am I going to go to? What law school will I go to? Will I still want to be a lawyer, or will my opinions change? What sports will I play? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I get married? Am I going to have kids? When will I retire? Will I become a humane officer?
I don’t know, honestly. But maybe in thirty years, I’ll come back to this post and reflect on everything I did or didn’t do.
One of the most satisfying things for me as a horseback rider is when I make a breakthrough with the horse I’m riding.
Over the past four years, I’ve constantly ridden the same horse. Though I would never give up riding that horse until graduation comes, there wasn’t that much I could continue learning on him. One, he was too perfect of a horse and, two, I already knew every little aid, tick, and everything else there was to know about him, good and bad.
But, in November, 2018, I took up the opportunity to ride a second horse, one completely opposite from my slow and steady, older horse I’ve been riding all throughout high school.
And riding him has been a pain, but also I’ve become such a better rider in the process learning to ride a horse completely different.
There were days when I’d get off with sore muscles and complete frustration and dissatisfaction. Days when I had to fight with him just to get him to walk.
Last Saturday, however, I had a breakthrough. Though there were the moments when I had to fight him through the walk, there were only two of them versus ten or twenty. It was the best ride I ever had on him. I got him to easily canter from a halt, canter over ground poles, and do most of those things without any protest.
I hope I’m not jinxing my improvement with him by writing this, but I hope all the future rides are just as successful as this one or else I’ll just keep learning.
When I was around six years old, I remember my parents slowly walking up to me in the morning and giving me a hug. They kneeled down beside me and said in a soft, slow, sad, and apologetic voice: “I’m sorry, honey. The raccoons got Mrs. Frizzel last night.”
I sobbed for hours. I was sad for days. I made my parents have a funeral. My tears fell to the ground as we buried my dead chicken. My parents bought a chick that I raised and loved, but I still missed Mrs. Frizzel.
When I was eight, Fluffy and Ginger passed away. My parents broke the news to me in the same way. I cried the same way as I had before. I got two more chicks.
When I was twelve, my parents again approached me with the same sad tone and told me that that a couple of our chickens died in their sleep. I didn’t cry as much when they died, partially because I was old enough to understand that everything dies of old age at some point. It was much more bearable. I would be sad, but not sobbing like I had done in the past.
Today, I came home and asked if he bought food at the store. He said no. Something happened, so he had to come home. “What I happened?” I asked.
“The neighbors dog got into our yard and into the chicken coop,” he said with a flat tone.
“You stopped right, the chickens are okay?”
“No,” he said. “They are dead, all but three are dead.” He said it with the same flat tone.
He just told me straight up, assuming I wouldn’t be sad. No soft, slow, sad, or apologetic voice. He patted my back and walked away.
I went outside. The corpses were gone. All that remained was feathers.
Eight year old me popped in to my mind. The funeral for Mrs. Frizzel. My parents stroking my back and telling me everything was going to be okay.
There would be no funeral, my dad had put their limp bodies in the trash before I came home. There would be no comfort from my parents. Fifteen year olds don’t cry when their chickens die.
I’m shouldn’t be sad. I’m too old to be sad. But, I’m sad.
I remembered holding the chickens when they were less than a week old. Moving them to the big coop when they were old enough. Hand-feeding them mealworms and celebrating the day that they laid their first egg.
I raised them. They are dead now.
If I was a child I would be sobbing in my parents arms. Now, I’m sobbing alone.
I know if I went to them they would comfort me, but there’s an age where you need to accept reality on your own.
Being treated like a child is now nonexistent. Just like my chickens.
When I was little, if I had a lot of homework, my parents would tell me I could do it and tell me I could have a cookie when I finished. Now, when I complain about my homework, they say lots of homework is part of growing up.
When I was little, my parents were by me at every moment to guide me through life. Now, I am old enough where I need to handle things on my own.
When I was younger, my parents could fix everything. They could make everything feel better. In their arms, I was safe.
Yes, the death of my chickens is part of the reason I’m crying. But, there’s more to the tears running down my cheek.
No matter how much I want to believe it, my parents can’t fix everything. As much as I want it to, they can’t hug me and make me not be sad. As desperately as I want to deny it, my parents can’t protect me anymore.
I don’t know why all of this came from a dog breaking into my chicken coop, but it did…
Rest in peace Lucky, Trouble, Darwin, Lemon, Pepper, Oreo, and Henry. I may not be a child anymore, but I still love you and miss you.
Over Thanksgiving break, I had to make so many goodbyes.
To my childhood stuffed animals, the ones I didn’t want to let go, but the ones I knew I wouldn’t really take anywhere with me. So, I gave them away instead.
To the pajama shorts my mom bought for me at Walmart in third grade, the ones that surprisingly fit me all the way to twelfth grade. Even though they still fit, it was time to throw them out when they were ripping away at their fragile seams.
To the room I spent weekends in at my grandparents’ house growing up, Now, it’s being remodeled. Things that meant so much to me back then are meaningless now, packed away in stacked boxes.
But there was one goodbye I haven’t made yet, because I’m too scared to accept the fact that now might be the time I need to say goodbye.
And that’s to my dog. When I was in first grade and my mom went to pick me up from school, she told me she had a surprise for my sister and I. The first thing that came to my mind was candy, but when she was opening the back door to the car, I was not expecting my sister to be holding a six-month-old, Rhodesian Ridgeback-German Shepherd mix puppy rescued from the pound.
Now, twelve years later, that dog is still in my life, but so much has changed.
It started with him being by my side every single day.
Then, when I moved away, I could only visit on weekends.
Then, life went on and visits turned into rare occasions when I’d go to my grandparents house. When I’d enter the house, he’d come running up to me, barking, and wagging his tail.
Now, he’s still there, but he’s older. He doesn’t run, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he can’t. He still follows me around the house, though, his tail still wagging. It’s still wagging even when he lies down, but the pain is still there. It’s obvious and it hurts me knowing it hurts him.
Having pets is one of the most joyful and painful parts about life. Because they bring so much joy, so many happy memories, but, also, so much pain when they’re gone.
But, he fought so hard for so long and I know that it’d be selfish to hold on longer. That if he needs to go and it’s his time, then he should. He should know that he was the best dog I’ve ever had the privilege to have.
I didn’t say goodbye. I gave millions of kisses and hugs, but my goodbye was temporary. It held a promise that I’d be back to see him again, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep that promise. I don’t know how long he’ll be around and I don’t know how long it’ll be until I visit again.
I’m so scared to say goodbye, so I won’t. I’ll say I love my dog. I’ll say I’m thankful that he lived with me throughout my life and that he is so strong for fighting though he doesn’t have to. And that he’ll always be the best dog, my dog, no matter what happens.
When I think about May 31st, 2019, I think about what I’m leaving behind when I walk across the amphitheater to get my high school diploma.
I’m leaving behind the campus I’ve called my home the past four years, the classes where I challenged myself and found my passions, and the teachers who helped me find those passions. I’m leaving behind my friends, who I won’t see at breakfast every morning or go on camping trips with anymore.
These last four years weren’t always easy. As much as I’ve loved them, they were some of the most challenging years of my life. But, one thing made life away from home just a little easier to manage and it wasn’t my teachers or friends.
It was my horse. A bay, appendix quarter horse named Time who I’ve been riding since my freshman year. My family always asks me what I’ll miss the most about OVS when I leave and the answer is always the same: Time.
When the Thomas Fire came on December 4th, 2017, I panicked as we were evacuating on the bus thinking my horse wasn’t going to make it out alive. I cried myself to sleep, despite the constant reassurances. Over the summer, I ended up crying again when I went three months without riding and, more specifically, without riding Time. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I have to say goodbye to him during the last week of school knowing that it’ll be the last goodbye. Knowing hat I won’t be getting back on once summer is over. Knowing that one day, towards the end of May, I will untack for the last time and possibly never get back on him. That, the following September, he’ll get a new rider and I’ll be at a university in a completely different city. I hope that rider loves that freaking horse as much as I do, though. Sometimes I wonder if that’s possible.
So many things happened the last four years with Time by my side. I went with him to my first horse show, on my first horse camping trip, my first dressage clinic, and my first injury, which he gave me after he threw me off at said horse show. Even though I got a fractured back, the story was still funny and memorable.
I can imagine leaving OVS and going off to college, but I can’t imagine leaving Time. I can’t imagine my school day not consisting of me going to the barn at the end of the day and getting on him whether the lesson ends up going well or not. I wish I could take him with me to college, but it’s probably not possible.
Last Friday, my aunt and uncle came to watch me ride. “I don’t understand how some people just let go of their horses or sell them,” my aunt said. “They’re pets too.”
Time may have not be mine legally, but he is mine. At least, I like to say he is and, at least, many other people thought Time was mine before I told them he wasn’t. But, he is my horse. The horse I’ve ridden for all of high school and the animal I’ve developed a bond with.
I’m not ready to let Time go, but I’ll have to and I will. Even if it might be one of the most painful things I’ll ever have to do.