One of my earliest emotional memories is the feeling I’d get when returning home after a long vacation or a even a trip into town. We’d pull off the highway, take a right down the paved road for a few miles, past the rural school I went to, past a few pastures, past a few wheat fields and eventually turn down a long gravel road.
We’d go over a few hills and and after about a mile you’d come over the last hill and it would come into view.
First you’d notice the red barn, the red quonset and then the yellow house, then the silver grain bins, the chicken coop, the trees and the cattle.
My dog would run along with the pickup when we made it about a half-mile from the house.
The closer I’d get, the more the feeling would wash over me. It was a feeling of relief that I was back where I belonged.
When my parents divorced I was about to start junior high. I took it harder than the rest of my siblings. I’ve always been the most emotional one. My sister was old enough to know it was for the best and my and my brother was too young to really understand.
But I wasn’t the divorce that really upset me, it was leaving the farm. Sure we were moving only 30 miles away but even a foot outside of the farm was too far away.
I’d still work on the farm through junior high and high school but my dad forbade me from becoming a farmer. He wanted me to have a better life than he did. Is my job better than had I been a farmer? Possibly, but it’s far less noble that’s for sure.
My heart broke when we had to sell the farm a few years ago. The only reason I buy the occasional lottery ticket is in the small chance I’d be able to buy it back someday.
But I realized something this morning when I woke up next to her. That feeling I got when we’d pull over the hill and first see the farm, I get that feeling when I wake up next to her.
She is where I belong.
And she smells much better than the chicken coop.