The other day someone asked me how much I missed Arlee.
“Oh, that place,” she said. “How could you leave it again? Don’t you think about it all the time?”
I played along a bit trying to check myself.
“I do miss it some days,” I said. “But I think about it a lot less than I thought I would.”
I’m not sure this was the answer she was looking for but it’s true.
Sometimes I let myself go there on a wave of what if. That farm on five acres. Days like today when it is sunny and bright I wonder what the mountains look like, if there’s snow on them and if you can see the frozen creeks from our pasture. I miss driving once down “main” street, landing at Wilson’s (the gas station/grocery store) and reading People magazine. I miss the groan and click of our pellet stove on a cold morning. I miss walking in the brown grass, seeing Oby’s mules wandering around as I survey the fence line. After owning the place for twelve years, there are still snarls of wire that need to be dealt with, rotting posts that need to be replaced. I learned how to fix fence when we first moved there but I haven’t done it in years. I think I could remember how. It’s one part old truck, just for the hell of it, one part barbed wire, one part leather gloves and a whole lot of tightening, pulling and cooperation. It’s a sunny day in October. It’s a wet, green day in May.
I have a picture of Seth fixing fence that I keep on the bookshelf over our bed. In it is everything I came West to find and I keep it close to remind myself of that. And him, Because some days we just don’t see that much of each other. There’s nothing wrong, life just moves fast. It may be why I don’t pine for Arlee this time. Or the deep missing just may not exist this go round may be because we left well or, that we are where we really wanted to be.
Honestly, I’m surprised sometimes how little I think about our farm life. Here, I wake up with my daughters an arms length away. They crawl into bed and lean their soft skin against mine. Eliza puts her cold nose to my cheek and circles it around to say good morning. Lucille wakes up talking and chatters while lying on top of me until we all give in and get up in the dark morning. In these moments I don’t think about those five acres, fences that need repair and a farmhouse settled into the pasture because we are not there. We are here, in a tiny house on the Northside. And really, that is all that matters.