So, I ran into to an old grade school classmate last fall when I was back home, trying to clean out my parents' house. I saw her in the donation line at the Goodwill. She had a tidy box of folded kids' clothes. I was hauling large sacks of creepy, moldy-eyed dolls and unopened boxes of Depends that my mother had used to wrap antique china and glass. We chatted about our families and kids and mutual friends, which was nice. She talked about her career as an attorney, which was also very nice. And then, inevitably, because she is a nice person, she asked what I was up to. And I say it that way because normal, nice people can't really say anything in my life has added up to what they might call a “career.” In my mind, it kind of all makes sense–that this led to that and inspired those which resulted in this and so on. But I can see that look that you reserve for exhausted toddlers and crazy people. People give it to me. A lot.
And, to add to the weirdness, I was the fat kid. And the artsy kid. And the kid with the second hand and hand-me-down clothes from sisters who were ten years older (so they couldn't even be considered “retro,” just “old”) (The clothes, not the sisters). So, I'd sit in the back of class, doodling horses and plans for barns and designs for riding clothes, adjusting the safety pin on the waistband of my itchy wool skirts, counting the minutes when I could finally get off that long-ass bus ride home, put on the second-hand jeans that my mother hated so much and spend the rest of the afternoon outside riding my old Welsh pony that I'd bought from a newspaper ad for ten bucks I'd scraped out of couch cushions, birthday money and the laundry room mad money stash.
And I was off.
I lost the weight and found my own clothes at the Salvation Army–(officially vintage and retro-waaay before Molly Ringwald's character in Pretty in Pink
made it cool), but I didn't get any less weird. And I never
got over being obsessed with horses.
Last this woman heard–she couldn't remember exactly–I'd gone into theater. Or architecture. Something artsy, anyway.
Yes, I worked in architecture. For a little while, I told her.
My father was an architect. My mother was really pissed I didn't go into theater. Even I thought that was a little weird, but I wasn't about to admit that to this woman now–whose hair in sixth grade was always perfectly feathered, a large comb prominently in the back pocket of her Calvin Kleins.
“Recently, I've started this little store,” I said. “We sell equestrian-inspired art, furnishings, clothing and accessories-corsets, hats, whips. It's sort of a whole lifestyle brand.”
“That's so nice,” she said. “You always did like horses.”
And I just left it at that, because, you know, she was a nice person.
Because, when they laid off all the last hires when the first dot-com bubble burst, I tumbled back into theater, picking through thrift stores for productions with shoestring costume budgets and scrapping around for bartending jobs, shady Chicago development company jobs, and maid service jobs for a company that hired out-of-work theater folks. I avoided my landlady. I took money and free meals shamelessly from men.
So, when my then-boyfriend convinced me to marry him and move to Florida, he played a dirty trump card: he said he'd buy me a horse.
He said we'd buy a little farm and have a horse.
He even went so far as to look at farm real estate with me!
I married him. I moved to Florida.
I trained other people's horses: expensive dressage horses, I rehabbed ruined hunters into therapy horses, turned barrel horses into jumpers.
I found plenty of horses to buy: they always seemed too expensive, too many issues, too far away.
I started writing professionally: I wrote about architecture and design, theater and dance, arts and culture.
I wrote about horses. Horses and architecture. Horses and art. Horses and culture.
I had babies that turned into toddlers that turned into teenagers.
The writing business stagnated and putrified.
I learned how to weld, work in metal, bind books.
Of course, I am always drawn to all things horsey: I found nice little riding pants, half-chaps, boots– little girls who had grown out of their riding clothes, perhaps grown out of horses altogether. I knew girls like that, of course. But I never understood them. My niece was one of them–it costs just a shit-ton of money to outfit a kid for a horse show–you can spend a couple grand like that! And then they grow out of them just as fast–the clothes, of course, but sometimes the horses, too. My younger son is interested in showing horses. I was gonna have to find all that gear…
And this little kernel of an idea sent out an insidious little root…
And then, the mid-life crisis rolled in–a bitter tsunami of suburban ennui
and other un-self-actualized bullshit metaphorically embodied in the excellent value retention and reasonable gas mileage of a Toyota Highlander. Yes–after 20 years, I realized that my husband, the father of my children, had lured me to Florida under false pretenses!!
In the cyclical nature of things, it was my eye for vintage clothing bought the farm in Kentucky
And my skill at thrifting that pays the mortgage and funds the capital for Hippik. Hippik is getting me to my farm in Kentucky. Not a lot of people wearing corsets and leather in Florida.
Hippik, actually brings together the total of my life experiences so far:
As architects, we offer full design, construction and in interior decorating services for Home, Farm, Barn and Business.
As a cooperative of artists, designers and craftspeople, we can create both custom, repurposed and restored vintage furnishings and equipment for home and barn.
Fine contemporary and vintage equestrian and sporting art
Custom, vintage and repurposed apparel, one-of-a-kind and vintage accessories.
Fine care products for horse and rider.
And it all sort of feels like a very real bit of theater.
I am still with my husband, oh, he of the false advertising but delicious dinners.
But a girl's gotta buy her own damn horse.