Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Alone Up There?

I was driving down my mountain road when I saw a neighbor out for a walk. I knew her by sight as a local but had never introduced myself to her. She was a retiree, out for a mid-morning stroll and enjoying the daylight I was racing to burn. I pulled over and said hello and explained where I lived and made smalltalk. She was polite, of course. Then she asked a question a lot of folks around here ask me. "Is it just you at that place?" and I nod and smile and say yes it is, and without fail the response is negative. Folks look either overwhelmed -eyes rolling up into their heads, or piteous, or some even get concerned. It's the opposite reaction I get from people online. You guys see Cold Antler as something heroic, a dream come true. Around here people see it as a lot of work, and one person at the wheel. It isn't heroic to them at all. It's lonely.

No one ever means anything offensive by their looks or response and I never take it that way. I think the idea of a small farm is so rooted in family and, well, roots, that a single person homesteading seems incorrect, especially to rural people a few decades older than me. I am asked if I am lonely a lot, or rather told this about myself. "Must be lonely up there, Eh?!" and I make some sort of joke or smile. I usually tell them the truth, that I'm too busy most of the time to be lonely. And I am.

I was thinking about this a lot today. If everyone around here is worried about my singleness, should I be? Does it make me an outcast? Do people in town think I'm odd, or broken, or an object to shake your head at while you take off your cap? I don't know. I do know that a love life isn't a part of who I currently am. I'm far too gun shy and suspicious of men and their motives, a self-inflicted wound that's festered through bad decisions and poor judgement . I am smart about some things but when it comes to men I am a fucking idiot.

So am I lonely? I don't think so. I'm anxious and scared a lot, but not lonely. When I get stressed out it isn't people I turn to - animals or writing is where I crave sanctuary.  I was always that way. If I am lonely it is such a part of me it isn't effecting me or considered. I'm lonely the way I'm 5'3" and have green eyes. I don't spend any time thinking about it - I just am those things. It isn't a sad thing at all, though I guess it may sound that way. I'll put it like this. When I am around couples I do not envy them or think about being in their place with someone I love. It never even crosses my mind. It would be like going on a hike and wondering what I am missing out on by not being a tree. I'm not a tree. I don't take part in tree things or tree business. Those things are for trees.

Damn am I happy the comments aren't live anymore.

If being lonely is any sort of hindrance I don't realize it. It's like a backpack I always carry around and just assume that the extra weight was always there. I'm sure when it gets taken off at some point (and it will) I'll understand how it feels to be instantly lighter. Or maybe this will always be a One Woman Farm? Either way is fine with me. Too much can happen in a week, much less a lifetime, to have any sort of plans or made-up-minds. I am grateful to be authentically alone. I'd rather be here than in a relationship I feel trapped in, which I am terrified of and wouldn't wish on anybody.

I guess the neighborhood will continue to feel bad for me for being alone here, or whatever it is they feel. Honestly, it's none of my business what other people think about me. That is their work, not mine. I do know anyone who thinks this much about a three-second response from a neighbor probably isn't in the headspace for dinner and a movie. She's probably in the headspace for a long jog and a bourbon. In that order.