My nephew Remington…of course, he was named after a gun…sigh.
This post comes with a significant disclaimer…it’s about to get really corny and cliché with a touch of cynicism, so if you were hoping for something clever and uplifting, you might want to close out and return to Facebook-surfing something else…
Nicholas and I were duly “home for the holidays” this year, and for that I’m sincerely thankful. After a beautiful holiday here with his side of the family, we flew to Illinois to do Christmas farm style. After a year of significant change, I was really looking forward to the familiar and comfortable life that doesn’t change. The rust colored carpet in the upstairs of our farm house is as hideous as ever, my dad’s hamshack is still chock full of ham radio shenanigans and the water still tastes like rust. The attic is still about 6 degrees in the winter and the trap door still squeaks as you open it into the vast unknown of years of storage. The basement is still a creepy cellar full of canned food, my dad’s wood working projects and an obscene amount of split wood for the stove. I love this house because it marks everything about my childhood.
Only at my parents house, would you sleep beneath sweet photos and a gun.
See..I grew up in an intransient community AND we were Apostolic Christian. That means that home was everything: entertainment, family, love, food…everything. It was normal to go to the garden and pick the veggies for dinner and go to the cellar to get chicken we butchered last summer out of the freezer. We didn’t have a TV and we certainly didn’t go to the movies. What we did was learn to entertain ourselves in the crib, the barns, the pasture or the cellar, and were experts in pretend and creativity. The farm wasn’t just a place I called home, but is a catalogue of my entire life. I know I sound dramatic, but even after I moved away, I knew that I could always come home tap into that world; I came home every summer of college to work on the farm and waitress in town. I came home after a semester in Austria and kept slipping into German while I attempted to share my experience with my parents. And I’ve been home every summer except one since the day I moved to Atlanta 10 years ago.
This weekend we had some hard conversations about selling the farm, and I walked the house a million times, taking pictures, laughing at particular memories, and crying at the thought of this change. We moved back to Atlanta this year. Nicholas got a transfer and has a totally different role with Target then he used to. We broke from suburbia and live downtown. I took a job and a new/old school and just quit at semester. This is a lot of change. I feel like I’m on a merry go round that hasn’t stopped for the next guests. I walked the house thinking about how selling the farm would be a bigger change on the scale than anything else this year…and I wanted to absorb every bit of the house. I touched the old quilts I used to think were tacky and admired the registers that Jeff and I used to use to listen to my sister’s conversations with boys downstairs. I giggled at the stuffed raccoons over the fireplace that graced every prom picture background. This house has so much character, and so many memories, and while I was already having separation anxiety, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, too.
How many people can say they were raised in the same place their entire life? I’ve had a “home base” for 33 years now, and I have to be thankful for that grounding and the lessons of the farm. Someone else now gets to have this benefit, and that is an awesome thing, I tell myself. It’s an odd thing to mourn the potential loss of the farm in spite of the fact that I don’t want to live that life. I have no desire to butcher animals and cut asparagus, chase and shear sheep, pick up lamb’s tails, and drive 45 minutes to Target. I like walking across the street for dinner and mastering parallel parking on the square outside my front door. I love taking Uber to local events and while I complain about the traffic, I secretly love the congestion and chaos of the city.
The truth is, I love the life I’ve chosen and created, but sometimes in the midst of the chaos, I just want to be a kid again, play pretend in the barns, whine about the smell of butchering day, eat donuts with ham and cheese for lunch between the marathon church services on Sundays and be naïve enough to believe that it was normal to sew my own prom dress and learn to drive on the tractor.
I know that I’m not handling all the changes this year very gracefully, but I’m just trying to process and digest everything the best way I know how. The farm has taught me everything I ever needed to know and I find that the lessons are not quite over. Patience, acceptance, and the art of moving on may be the farm’s final lessons for me. Tonight I unpacked an aerial shot of the farm that has always hung in my classroom, and as I hung it on the wall and set up my vintage barn, I realized that I’m embracing multiple changes right now with as much grace as I can muster.