In the time I have been away from this dusty old blog, we have had quite the... ahem... "adventure." I had so many appropriate titles for my first blog post back that I couldn't decide between them, so you can make up your own. Top three were:
There and Back Again
Things Fall Apart
But gosh, it could really have been anything.
To make a long and complex story short and to the point, I will say that we were really good at homesteading. We knew what needed to be done, and when we were able, we did it. We took good care of our animals and loved them a lot. We had amazing experiences and a lot of successes, punctuated with a few failures. We had really big, beautiful dreams for living off the land, as so many people do these days. And when it all began to unravel for reasons completely unrelated to homesteading, really, I felt the need to explain it to people. Explain what happened. But after a few weeks of settling in and telling the story (which I just did, again! Just now! To a total stranger!) I'm tired of telling the details and I will just say this: Evidently, we were meant to come back here. At least for awhile.
Back to "the ghetto." Back downtown. Back to the exact same house that never sold in our 2.5 years of trying to get rid of it. And while the idea at first seemed completely awful, after being down here for about two weeks, I can't tell you how incredible it feels to be back. Back with new ideas and new experience and new knowledge. When we last lived here, nothing seemed like "enough." We can't supply our own food! We don't have enough room! I can tell you with full honesty that I had more successful gardens, both in planting space and in growing luck, when I was living in this house. And coming back, we have all sorts of ideas and resources and experiences to make our gardening ventures tremendously prosperous. Aside from what we've brought back home with us, the area has boomed in our time away. We left amidst the economic downslide, when we lived across the street from a scary, empty warehouse. We returned to find some great new community spaces, new projects, and a revived love for the downtown area by it's inhabitants. There are neighborhoods pulling together and starting community gardens. The sidewalks are being made to look lovely. Everyone is so happy and friendly! This cool but somewhat shabby downtown area has exploded into being a hopping place, and we are so, so fortunate to be back here.
I've been playing music again. Through that, I've been reconnecting with old musician friends. People I didn't even realize I missed! It feels so wonderful to pick up my instruments and walk to wherever I'm playing music. And to see my little family walk down later to join me. It's a kind of simplicity that I didn't realize we had the last time around. I took it completely for granted. How foolish I was!
In this life, we can walk to everything we need. If our car breaks down, there isn't a place we need to go throughout the week that a bike or our feet can't take us. And no matter our mode of transportation, there's hardly any travel time to consider! The minutes of my life devoted to buckling people into carseats has diminished considerably, I'm pleased to say.
My kids are really, really happy. I don't know if it was the crammed living quarters at our last home, I don't know if it was because, as my oldest told me later, they just felt like they were on a long vacation, but the instant happiness that came over my girls when we came back to the old house was unmistakable. It pleases me so much to see them so cheerful again. When we came back to the downtown house with the initial idea that our stay was going to be temporary, it was amusing to watch the older two girls showing the younger two around, touring them through the house, telling stories about what happened in which little corner of the house. "This is where we hid and jumped out at Daddy when he came home from work!" Or, "This is where we had a bookshelf and we would dump the books out and play bunk beds!" In all my own struggles of living here, I never realized how happy the kids were. And now coming back, it just feels like home to them.
And of course, the whole reason we found ourselves back here was because of the problem most of us face: $$$. I'll tell you a little secret I've learned: When you want less, you need less. It's really shocking! And I'll tell you another secret: Having a farm isn't having less. Farm supplies is expensive, and you need a lot of it. It's so easy to think "I'll live in the country, where we'll never have to mow and we can just let our animals roam free and then eat them, and we'll never need to go to the store for anything, and my kids will never get sick, and it will all be a big blisstastic experience." That's what I thought. (Because I'm an idiot.) But then we actually moved to the country, and realized that if we didn't mow the lawn, the ticks were completely out of control, and I'd be picking ticks off my kids and dogs and cats constantly, and I will find them *in my bed* at night, and that is just gross. Gross! But do you know how much a mower costs, when you're looking at mowing the plural form of "acre?" It costs a lot of money! And unless your entire property is tightly fenced (or you live truly in the middle of nowhere,) you can't always let your animals roam free, because people driving by will call animal control and they will come and knock on your cabin door when your babies are naked and bathing in a washbasin because you don't have inside bathing equipment and they will tell you you have to do something about your goat getting out and while we're on the subject, how many cats do you have and are they all spayed and neutered? And after you get the goat back into the fenced area, the Animal Control officer will leave and you will spend a good week and a half just waiting for CPS to show up at your door asking why you don't have a normal bathtub and why your kids aren't dressed, or in school. ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS.
I miss my country life. Even with the fear of getting in trouble, the constant driving to town and the showering outside in December (or not showering for all of December because of frozen pipes, either one,) I miss it. But there is a line of simplicity and I feel like moving back downtown has allowed us to embrace a different kind of simple life. One in which friends drop by unannounced. (Sometimes they bring beer or freshly written songs!) I'm looking forward to walking down to the Farmers Market on Saturdays and getting anything I don't grow myself. I'm looking forward to the creative layout of our garden that we've planned and are going to start building this weekend. I already see the benefit being back here is to my songwriting and my playing gigs, and it's been really refreshing. Homeschooling is a whole lot easier when you can zip right across the street to the library. There are good things about living down here. With new eyes, I'm ready to embrace the simplicity of downtown life, again.