Kaitlin Phillips, NC

Senior Writer

Kaitlin has been a writer since kindergarten, but didn’t go pro until attending college at Elon University, where she majored in journalism. After finishing grad school at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she worked for nearly eight years as a legal, financial, and technology reporter, trying to find the human narrative in every story. In 2018, she moved back home to North Carolina to work in nonprofit communications and finish writing her first book. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, from the Durham Herald-Sun and Greensboro News & Record to VICE and Salon.com.

As a Story Terrace writer, Kaitlin interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

On Horses and Seagulls, Luck and Love

My grandfather loved horses. His childhood home was just up the hill from a dairy farm. With no horses close at hand, he and his cousins once jumped the fence and tried to ride the cows, inspired by the Westerns they listened to on the radio. At twelve, I loved horses too, to the point that most of my little life revolved around them. While some friends played sports after school and on weekends, and others spent hours at church, I was at the barn mucking and riding.

My family had moved from Connecticut, where my grandparents lived, to North Carolina a few years before, so I only got to see them twice each year. During those visits, I shared my love of reading and writing with my grandmother; my grandfather and I, when we talked (he was a quiet man), we talked nature, gardening, and horses. So, when my mother suggested one summer that we all get together on a little island off the coast of Virginia to watch an epic pony swim, I excitedly packed my bags.

I remember Chincoteague, a historic town on the historic island of the same name, as all wildlife all the time. There were sand crabs to poke at, plants to identify, and seabirds to watch as they soared by. My grandmother taught me about the birds; my grandfather knew about the plants. But he was mostly quiet, patiently waiting for the day of the crossing. Every summer, the ponies of Assateague Island swim to Chincoteague, all at once, then parade through the streets to a pony auction.

The morning of the crossing was chilly, even though it was summer. A fog settled on Chincoteague as we made our way to the water, hoping for a good spot. I worried about being able to see through the low clouds. As we walked, suddenly my grandfather yelled out. Before I could turn around, I heard the rest of my family laughing. A seagull had relieved itself on my grandfather’s bald head! “That’s good luck!” my grandmother said, as her husband grumbled and put on his hat. But I think she was right; despite the fog, as we stood on the beach, we could suddenly see the ponies in the distance, their heads just above the water.

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