My Grandfather, Myself

An Essay by Emily Goldberg

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The dreaded statement I seem to be saying these days is: “Jeez, I’m becoming my mother.”

I’m overreacting, because my mom is the coolest.  She’s got sick style, a killer personality and a great taste in most things. Another, less-dreaded less-cliché thing I seem to be saying is “Man, I’m really just like my grandfather.”  

Pause. What?

It is not in the way of me following exactly in my family’s footsteps.  It is not that at all, actually, it’s entirely the opposite.

Now,  let’s backtrack. I feel as though I’m becoming my mother, who naturally (unless there is something I don’t know) is related to my grandfather.  So how does one skip a generation and begin feeling like a 90-year-old, angry, grumpy, cool-as-fuck Italian man? Let’s investigate, because there are more differences than similarities that make me just like my family.

Many kiddos aspire to follow in the footsteps of their mother’s, their father’s, their grandfather’s, their grandmother’s. But a lot of families force their kids to follow in the footsteps of their family.  Less about me for a minute, though, and more about my grandfather. My grandfather, whom I’ve referred to as Pop-Pop my whole life, is not your regular, 90-year-old man: he is Tommy Lasorda. Now, being from Los Angeles, and, you know, being related to him, Lasorda is a household name.  But for those who are not as familiar to the world of baseball and just how deep LA rolls with their very own baseball team, here’s why he’s relevant: my grandfather played for and managed the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, he did not just play and manage: my grandfather has won the most World Series titles out of any other Dodger manager, been a member of the Dodger Organization for over 20 years, and motivated and spoken more inspirational quotes than any other man famous or alive, I’m pretty sure. Bottom line: he’s a big. Fucking. Deal. My grandfather was a professional baseball player. He is one of the most famous baseball players in Los Angeles, and beyond that, US history. So for me, becoming just like my grandpa stopped before I started. I digress. He was an athlete. He practiced and worked his ass off to become exactly what he wanted to be.  

My mother was a professional dancer.  She pursued modern dance through college and taught dance until a knee injury put her out.  Following that, she worked in the jewelry business with the likes of Cartier, as well as at her own business that she co-owned with her friend.  My mother was an athlete, and my mother is an artist. My mother began to break the mold, rather, to create the mold of the artistic athlete.

When I was a kid, I felt absolutely no pressure to do anything or to do everything.  It seems like I was an experiment. I am my parents only child, and they never pushed me to do something they did.  Now, watch as the next few years of my life unfold:

My mother naturally put me into dance as an extracurricular activity to follow my artistic private school kindergarten days.  Right away I knew I was immensely untalented (still the case, but big thanks to French 75s) but I continued, because I knew that I was meant to do something.  Yes, at 4, I knew that I was meant to do something.

I knew I was meant to do something, but I also knew that it was definitely not dance.  So I played softball, because it was the female equivalent of baseball, just attempting to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps.  I started to realize that I was an athlete. I don’t know how I knew, because I was a tiny pudgy 9 year old with absolutely no athleticism, but I knew I was a winner, and more importantly, I knew I was competitive. As the legacies say, “it ran in my blood.”

Trying out in a local dad’s garage for a softball team, which definitely seems creepy in hindsight, I made it.  Of course I did. I knew I was amazing. Until I didn’t. I went to the first practice and realized that I was a pity choice for the team. I was no quitter, though, and I busted my ass to be good, just in time to realize that softball wasn’t me, and it wasn’t just because the uniforms were absolutely horrendous.

So. Let’s backtrack again: I have the background and the underlying name of one of the most iconic men in the history of baseball.  I have an incredibly artistic mother. I have absolutely no one telling me what to do and what not to do. Add to this: I am now 11, I am coming into my own skin, and I know exactly what I want.

I stumble upon riding horses, the sport I always knew existed but never knew I wanted to do. Tight pants were incredibly off-putting for me for some reason.  My love for this sport was discovered by accident, on an afternoon when I had to go along with my friend to her riding lesson on a summer day.

My mom said yes. No questions asked. My first riding lesson was scheduled for the next day. That was it. Since that day, and I am NOT joking, I have not stopped riding, not for one second.

Image via  @b.b.em

Image via @b.b.em

I knew I wanted to be a winner. I just knew. The moment I got my first pony, Walter (still have him, he just celebrated his ~sweet 16~), I knew I was in for a life of hard work and perseverance.  Between myself and my mother, we own 10 horses. I ride and train 6 days a week, compete 2 to 3 weeks per month, and train at the gym on the side around 3 days a week just to keep everything else running smoothly.  This exact schedule has remained the same since I was in middle school: birthday parties, hang outs, and even family events have been placed in the shadows of my sport. The premature back and knee aches and pain are all have all been worth it: as of late, I have worked my way up to being ranked in the top 10 in the country with my trusty steeds, Sinatra (Sin), and Sambuca (Buca), competed, and most recently, won at nationals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C., which is almost traditionally a solely-east coast thing for people to do (love to be representing the west coast best coast). I have accolades acquired from coast to coast with my other horses as well, in addition to spending a ton of time learning, succeeding and laughing with my trainer, Victoria.  I have travelled to Germany 3 times and had the opportunity to not only import a horse each time, but also ride a countless amount of horses who were incredible athletes and who each had something to teach me. Needless to say, it’s been good.

And, as evidently seen in trends, both past and present, equestrian style is envied by even those who have never sat on a horse in their life. Riding horses still allows me to fully express my love for fashion and style, even when I am training and competing.  Riding, as a sport, is just as much about looks and presentation (sometimes, almost more, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how I’m feeling on a certain day). I outfit myself in the classic way, with just a hint of myself. For example, all of my coats are traditional navy or dark green, but each has a distinguishing factor, like a velvet collar or a lighter piping on the collar.  Like in real life, I am to stand out in a classic and cool sort of way. It works for me.

Riding, like anything else I would have chosen, was not easy and did not come naturally, although it was a little more natural than dance and softball.  And, above everything, it takes grit and perseverance. It only works if you do, and I know that that is really tacky but it is true. Through my bloodlines -through the competitive athlete and the artistic athlete- was born an equestrian.  Everyone says “Emily, you have a huge name to live up to,” in reference to my grandfather, and I finally feel like I have, but in my own way. I tried my mother’s passion; I tried my grandfather’s passion, and I finally found out that was unapologetically me, the perfect combination of beauty, fashion, and most importantly, gritty athleticism and competitiveness. I have practiced and honed my craft, and my body, for the last thirteen years to be in the position and status I am today.

Not following, and yet totally following in my grandfather’s and my mother’s footsteps.