Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Marvelous Mariah

When I first met Mariah Green she was a serious faced toddler with an abiding love for a very real looking, bald doll she'd named "Curly." Rescued from a relative's recycle bin, Curly and Mariah were inseparable for about 4 years.

As a little girl she would attend meetings with her Dad at the Henry Miller Library. These were strategic pow-wows filled with adults, debating how to best protect our coastal area, or designing a homeschooling program for local children. Mariah would sit patiently with Curly through the thorniest discussions, nodding and taking (pretend) notes.

Now she's 16 years old, and the cliché of blossoming couldn't be better applied: She's like a breath of fresh air, a glass of cool spring water. She has her mother's smile, her father's stride, and she is uniquely, utterly herself. Mariah embodies a reality that is felt, not seen, that is content, not form, coming from within, instead of structure imposed from without. Organic, at-ease, happy, calm, yet ready for the principled action of adulthood.

After our visit, I recalled a quote from the coming of age story within Shakespeare's Hamlet, — Polonius' advice for young Laertes as he goes out into the world:
“This above all: to thy own Self be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day,
that thou canst not then be false to any man.”

How does a young woman like this come to being in our Big Sur world?

Mariah Marlena Green arrived in Big Sur on Jan. 2, 1992, a Capricorn baby born to Laurie Celine Green and George Garner "Tim" Green.

Some of her earliest memories are of picking strawberries at beloved local painter George Choley's strawberry patch at Mucha Vista, going to the laundromat with her Mom, and hiding in the closet in order to eat as many chocolate Easter eggs as possible. She remembers carrying Curly around at my wedding, watching everyone celebrate.

Mariah was a Big Sur Charter School student until she was 9 years old, when she decided to go to Captain Cooper, the local elementary school. She appreciates that she was independent as a little person; with about 3 hours of school per day she was totally caught up when she went to regular school. Her Dad tutored her in math, which she loved.

Mariah started reading on her own at 9, and liked books she could relate to, like Julie of the Wolves . Her favorite times included community events and concerts at the Henry Miller Library, hanging out with friends Stefan and Kiley on the ridge, and, starting when she was about 6, helping her Dad build her room, as well as helping him maintain the ridge road with his stable of earth moving equipment.

Now a Junior at Carmel High School, I ask her about the differences she senses between Big Sur kids v. town kids. "So much of the focus there," she says simply, "is about what you look like, and what you have, not about who you are." She feels though, that her peers respect her because she’s not into status. Kids spend a lot more time on the computer in town, she notices, and have more of a hard time expressing (or knowing) who they really are. Hmmmm. Welcome to the world...

One way to make growing up in Big Sur more fun, she suggests, would be to have more community events, getting together to dance, watch movies, hang out. Young people are more isolated here, and would definitely benefit from this. Such a simple, basic concept. I make a mental note to pass this idea on to our local non-profit for kids, Big Sur Arts Initiative.

Part of Mariah's lovely presence comes from the tranquility that country living brings. While she remembers being a little afraid of the dark when she was small, and has a healthy respect for Mother Nature's stronger moods, her storms and fires, she says she is "nature crazy" now, and wants to go to college in a small town in the mountains. Her family camps in the Sierras every summer, and it's her favorite time of the year. That was especially true for her after this year's huge fires.

Mariah easily expresses her gratitude for her supportive family. "It's great to grow up somewhere where you can experience everything and learn who you really are, v. living in pop culture," she says. This summer's fires came when she was in San Francisco with relatives, and while she was pragmatic about that, her scariest moment was when she learned that her Dad was leaving the ridge, something he'd never done during a fire before.

As you might imagine after all those years with Curly, she's a "a natural" with little people and is Partington's most popular children's companion. While she thought of being a kindergarten teacher at one point, all those hours each day in a classroom does not appeal to her.

Mariah's plan is to take a year off after graduation, then go to college in Colorado, Montana, or Arizona. She's interested in becoming an Outward Bound instructor, or doing alpine rescue work. She wants to travel to the Himalayas, learn more about Sherpa culture, which she finds fascinating, and to climb Mt. Everest.

With her strong sense of herself and her straightforward values, Mariah's adventures will be sure to bring her many inspiring challenges and much joy. We are eager to watch the next chapters of her young life unfold!

Mariah in front of her room in the structure she helped build
At Easter many years ago with our ill-fated wee bunny
With friend Chloe Bright
Curly and Mariah

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