With exhaustion I sit on our damp front steps and flick the grainy dirt off my boots as I unbuckle the spur straps and peel off my chaps. Greet my hungry kitty at the door... she must be starving, I've had another 12 hour day. Tossing the day's mail on the counter, I grab a can of food to turn off the constant crying at my feet. As I open the trash can, I catch a glimpse of the Emory University magazine mixed in the pile of junk mail and white envelopes. I pause and start to think of my Ivy league education ...along with all the Ivy league dollars..that earned that booklet to sit in the middle of my kitchen and a little ball of guilt starts to form in my belly. Are my parents disappointed that there is no DR before or PHD or ESQ after the name on all those letters on my counter? All the hours my mother worked overtime, all the hours I studied overtime... two majors, one minor... The smell of grass and sweat start to overpower my reminiscing and I trip over the cat on my way to the shower.
I start to smile as the bubbles run down my back. Her grin was from ear to ear as she high-five'd me after her jump today. She shrugged and giggled and brushed her pony for an hour after her lesson. I rubbed my shoulder and cracked my neck, that young horse really caught me off guard passing the gate earlier today. I exhale and then relax thinking about the jump combination that felt like an effortless dance with my newest partner in the barn.
I passed the five loads of laundry who are waiting for my return, and made my way to kitchen to draw my favorite tea. There sits the Emory magazine again, filled with alumni and their studies and achievements... I'm sure its residents are engaging in political conversations across long table tops and discussing the most recent medical studies they are working on. I grab some shirts and start folding, checking the sizes and carefully placing them in crisp plastic bags. I rub my thumb over the embroidery on the back of the next shirt. My first name is stitched with care and I think again about my Ivy league education....and decide it was worth every penny and every long working hour. I stack the shirts in a box and taste the cinnamon spice chai again.
My office isn't in a large hospital or on the 20th floor of a downtown sky scrapper. I come home with horse hair and dirt and work overtime at a cluttered kitchen table...but I get to fly and taste freedom everyday. I get to swim in the smiles and joy from innocence and I get to share a passion and hang it in a stranger's closet until I join them on a trip of their own freedom ride.
No, I don't use my degree to ride professionally...and I didn't need it to start a company with my best friend. But my Ivy league education took me on a journey to meet that best friend, and brought me to the city where I met my heart horse who led me to the barn where I work. My Ivy league education taught me dedication, how to set goals, and how to keep raising the bar. Thank you Mom and Dad for the overtime, for the phone calls of encouragement, and for sitting for hours waiting for me to walk on that hot Atlanta May day. The embroidered logo on all my "work clothes" feels really good. REALLY GOOD... and so does the taste of freedom to do what I love everyday.