When we were growing up Lauren and I shared an unshakable passion for horses. As very little girls we played with My Little Ponies. We would kneel on the carpet among our brightly colored toys, pick favorites, and imagine that they were real. As we grew in inches and sophistication we switched to plastic Breyer horses, a unique breed that Lauren accumulated in shelves upon shelves in her room. I remember being impressed not only with her collection, but also with the names she bestowed upon them. There were no horses named “Mackie” or “Spot” on Lauren’s shelves, but rather ponies with names befitting royalty and Greek Gods. We played endlessly with these toys, imagining ourselves into a world where we could gallop through open fields, leap fences, and forge a connection with something truly beautiful.
When we were about fourteen I came down to Lake Oswego for a weekend visit. We were past the stage of Breyer horses, in age if not in spirit. Lauren, always an adventurer, suggested we ride bicycles to a stable to indulge our mutual passion for all things hooved. We clambered onto bikes, pedaled out into the sunshine, and proceeded to ride for hours. And more hours. Seemingly unconcerned with the great mileage between ourselves and the barn, Lauren took me on a bicycle trek through the hills of suburban Oregon. Other fourteen-year-olds likely spent that afternoon being cool and aloof in a mall or a basement somewhere. Not us. Instead, we innocently pedaled towards the real live horses of our childhood dreams. We were probably still thinking about galloping through fields, leaping fences, and living in a story.
It may be that a love of horses is really a love of something bigger, like beauty, grace, adventure, or romantic notions. It occurred to me, while writing this, that I’m not entirely sure why this is the story that I chose to tell. Perhaps it is because, to me, these memories balance perfectly with the person Lauren grew to be. She was genuine. She. pursued her passions. She loved stories and had an unbeatable imagination. This is how I will always think of Lauren.