29 June 2009

let me straddle my old saddle

I have never been into stereotypes.

OK... maybe never is a strong word.  Let me rephrase.

When I was a stupid shallow high school punk I said things like, "I have like never been into stereotypes," but I like totally was.  Which one, you ask? Oh, all of them.

I wore the Gap bootcut button flies because that was the preppy thing to do.  I listened to the edgy rocky stoner music because that was the late-90s nouveau-hippie thing to do.  I let my hair lay on one shoulder, cocked my head to the side when I talked to guys, and did my darnedest to appear mysterious and sexy because that was the... I dunno... girl-who-was-popular-with-the-guys thing to do.

I'm relatively certain I could have substituted the word slutty for that dash-y adjective I just created.  Was I slutty? It's possible, unfortunately.  Which, by the way, isn't nearly as sad and tragic as the fact that I'm pretty sure I wanted to appear slutty.

Suffice it to say that I'm not proud of that piece of my history and have, at this point, reconciled that ridiculousness with the One before whom I'll one day stand in judgement, but that's neither here nor there in this particular post.

I guess, though, my favorite stereotype, or at least the one that was constantly a part of my repertoire, was the farm-y redneck-y one.

I wanted so badly for everyone to think I was cool (despite my "marching to my own beat" personal mantra).  Friendly with and admired by the girls, sought after by the boys.  And in my tiny rural private school, nearly everyone had some ties with a farm.  It was my all-access pass.

And the only stereotype-ish slot I could slide myself into with any legitimacy.

No, I didn't grow up ridin' and ropin' and I wasn't out milking the cows at 4 in the morning every day.  In my defense, though, the only horse my grandparents had on their farm during my growing-up years was a brown and white pony named Tony Bill who Noah rode off of the ark and they have beef not dairy cattle.  I have, however, seen a calf born and, more gruesome, banded (which seems like a perfect way to introduce gangrene or something equally uncomfortable to a calf's testicles).  I spent a good deal of my childhood playing in barn lofts.  I've set and stripped tobacco.  I hauled hay briefly once.  And I've been in cow manure up to my ankles.

And that, folks, is about the extent of it.

I said with any legitimacy not with a whole lot of legitimacy.

In the end, though, I think what really makes me feel like a farm kid at heart is the fact that I loved that lifestyle oh so very much.  Still do.  I love the smell of fresh cut hay warmed by the early summer sun.  I love the mustiness of a barn where many seasons of tobacco has hung to come into order.  I loved the old peafowl (who's since gone to that big roost in the sky by way of one very nasty Dalmatian named Lacey) calling from the barn roof.  I love sinking my toes into the just-plowed red clay behind my grandparents' house.  I could sit on my folks' patio for days just staring out across the rise and fall of the pastureland and smelling the oniony watermelon smell of freshly mown grass.

I remember sitting in my spot on that patio shortly before our wedding and thinking with a dull ache in my chest, "How on earth am I supposed to leave all this?"

Which brings me to today.  I'm homesick for space.  I love our house, but I'm tired of being subdivided.   I want to live somewhere where the fences are woven wire and not chain link.  I want land.  And I want animals on it.  I want to be woken up by the sound of a tractor somewhere nearby.  As a matter of fact, I think I would pay somebody to work my land if just once a year or so I could look out my window after dark and see the lights of a tractor making every effort to beat the rain.  I want my kids to be able to roam and learn to drive in the pasture as soon as they're feet will reach the pedals.  I want a real and valid reason to have a very large truck and a 4-wheeler.

I want cows mooing.

And a big ole garden to work in.

And boots for my feet.


And someday... some blessed day out there in my future, I shall have all these things.

Or if I can't have it all, I'd at least like a bigger yard.  And fewer, farther apart neighbors.  And maybe still the boots.

Just for good measure.