We live in town, (technically, a village), right off Main Street, five minutes' walk from the Kwik- Trip, Josh's school, the library, the town pool, the post office, the café, and a growing assortment of restaurants.
I can ride my bike to get my eyes examined, my hair cut, my prescription filled, and my groceries.
I can walk to my boot-camp class at 5:25 in the morning and get there at 5:30 (a.m.).
We love our neighbors.
Ours is an American Folk-style house with arts-and-crafts detail and a yard. I no longer mistake the perennials for weeds and yank them out by their roots. It's a shame that poppies look so pointy and suspicious before they've blossomed; otherwise, we'd have a lot more of them.
We have so many memories in this house, Josh can't remember not living here.
But subconsciously he remembers that, like the poppies, he was yanked out by the roots from his home in Massachusetts when he was three.
If Josh had been six when we moved, would it have made a difference to his recollection?
Doesn't it seem that particularly wrenching life transitions have a way of erasing memory?
For example, ask me to name any of my teachers from eighth grade.
I can't name a single one.
All I remember is that I was not happy, I often forgot to bring my math book to school, and my biology teacher asked me if I was on drugs. (I wasn't. I should have been.)
All other details have been filed way, way back in the attic of my memory where I will never bother to retrieve them.
Failed relationships induce amnesia, too, especially if they end badly, as many do. I think there are people walking around who have edited whole epochs out of their memories--either because they didn't like who they were with, or they didn't like who they were then, (and now they think they are someone else--and maybe they are).
I digress. The point was, I am keenly aware of how memory, like a spider web, is both sturdy and delicate. I don't want to tear apart Josh's happy memories by making him move to a farm.
I can't help it! I think I want a farm!
I also wonder, if I had a farm, would it be as I imagined it? Would it be...nice?
I'm very conflicted.
I don't want a working farm. I want a hobby farm. I don't want chickens (no!), or bees (ow!), or to grow my own food (no, no, no!). I am not Ralph Waldo Emerson or Aldo Leopold Center. I just want to have my horse near me, to be closer to nature, and to a have a quiet retreat from everything.
And what about those awful dogs, you ask. What hope for peace and quiet could you possibly have while you own those horrible dogs?
That's a point.
I adore the pastoral beauty of Wisconsin! Out on my bike or in the car or on my horse or at the dog park, I see gorgeous barns, sprawling fields, gnarled oak trees, and I yearn for a little place right there in the middle of it.
I want to be there, to live there, and have giant windows from every room, to look out over all the sunsets and all the seasons of my life.
I want to hear my horses whinnying and neighing. (We'd have to get a second horse to keep my horse company; they're herd animals.)
I want to feed my horse myself. I hardly ever get to feed her because she lives (very happily) at a barn with other horses and they all get fed together as part of the arrangement. All I have to do is groom and ride her.
I want more from my horse relationship.
On the other hand, Belle, the horse, has no desire for a deeper relationship with me.
It's not personal. She's horse-identified and unsentimental about my species. Some horses are partial to us, they like to be fawned over and pampered. Belle's skin twitches when I pat her as though a horse-fly had landed on her rump.
So, to recap: The farm would not be in Josh's best interest. And the farm would not be in Belle's particular interest.
There are two other matters that bear mentioning:
1) Josh is an only child. A farm is more remote than a house in town, (yet still close to town and other houses, in the case of the two that I've seen recently).
2) I am not getting younger. I might even be getting older. Now I am strong and healthy-ish, but, chronologically, not judging by the length of my telomeres, I am middle-aged (assuming I live to be 94).
Two significant considerations, yes, but I think they cancel each other out.
I am not Buddhist or Hindu, so I can't postpone this decision to another life.
I am Presbyterian, in the broad, all-rivers-lead-to-the-same-ocean sense of the word, so I believe that only God knows who is going to get a farm and who is not.
Phil's into the farm. He wants outbuildings and land. He's got a kiln for his pottery-ing shoved into a corner of our basement, and his wood-working machinery and go-cart-making apparatus all squeezed into a three-bay garage.
I'm into the farm.
Or would I miss the camaraderie of the neighborhood and the barn? (We're herd animals, you know.)
As I pull into the driveway toward Jen's barn, I wonder, Who's here? Is the farrier here, standing up and stretching after filing down a horse's up-turned foot? If Hobbes the border collie runs up to greet me, our mutual friend Jen is somewhere nearby. If there's a yellow Subaru wagon, Mary is there and we'll have a nice conversation as I make my way to the tack room.
Be wary of wishes that make everyone queasy with sea change.
There is a farm not far from here. American Folk house on four acres and three box stalls in the barn.
It's the not the first farm I've looked at this spring. It probably won't be the last.
I'm in touch with a realtor. I just have to get in touch with my feelings.