Monday, November 23, 2020

I haven’t written a lot lately.

I haven’t written a lot lately. Not much of anything, anywhere. I have been meaning to. There’s a few chapters of a book sitting on my desktop; a book proposal too. And this morning, I realized for perhaps the 4000th time, I need to just make myself write this book about the story of the last ten years. But you know what? Sometimes there’s a really good reason to put things off. Sometimes a writer needs to stop and realize the book you were going to write is no longer your story. And instead of mourning the unwritten, allow the new story to unfold, live it, and write about that.

Which is exactly what I am doing. Living my life in a way that isn’t constantly shared or public. And learning to relax with that.

This blog came from two places. The first was the need to share the experiences with other people, even total strangers. The second was my love of writing. I wrote because I was compelled to do so, a lot. I was madly in love with the idea of becoming a Farmer.

I capitalized that because it really is a proper noun to me. Farmers, especially women working outdoors on their own smaller diverse operations—they were another species to me! A wilder, wiser, more grounded and hardworking version of the person I was at the time. And as someone who has struggled with her weight, body image, and eating disorders most of her life - seeing women dedicated to ethical foods felt like salvation. I could make my life about being free, eating better, and being healthier in every way. And letting people in on my dream was a way to find support outside the traditional sources. I had no partner. My family was not on board with my choices. If I wanted to share my excitement about the person I desperately wanted to become I needed to farm that validaton as well.

And it helped me. Not the farming, but the hero status I gave women farmers. To be more interested in being outdoors, with the seasons, working for your meals in the most primitive way possible felt like the closest thing to a genuine human life to me. Primal and perfect. And seeing those women as role models slowly took my horrifically low self-esteem, naiveté, and self loathing and turned it into the fuel that ran Cold Antler Farm. I decided to jump into every passion without looking back, even if I was unprepared. What I got out of that was a rough and scrappy homestead, amazing friends and mentors, animals that showed me how to be a better person and experiences that forged a scared girl into a strong woman.

There is no question that “coming out” as a farmer was crucial to coming out as a lesbian. I needed to show the world (and myself) that I could change my life from what was expected of me into something I truly was. You all watched a young woman leave a corporate job to start working on her own land. I saw someone learning how to find my own identity. Fighting to prove that changing who you are seen as, is possible. And not only that (because there’s not a lot of weight on any label that isn’t a tombstone) but to remain here. To figure out how to pay the bills and keep the feed bags flowing even at the worst of times. And the consistency of simply remaining in this house, on this land, and keeping a fulfilling and feral creative life has been the work that turned me from a fan of strong women into one.

I have been here farming alone for ten years. I am strong as hell.

Horses helped. Hawks helped. Dogs helped more than you will ever know. But ten years into farming I am learning that the story of struggling alone isn’t the best story. It got me this farm, and I am grateful for it, but that book I was writing was about learning to be brave through fear. At 38 I am learning that running from failure isn’t fuel enough to lead a good life. It’s running towards love. That’s the better life.

This morning it is raining here. I’m writing beside a roaring fire. The chores are done. The coffee is still perking. And this house is no longer just mine, but the place I am building a new story and partnership with a woman who also left behind who she was to live in her own truth in a wilder place. And while I know damn well no relationship can or should be a saving grace, it can be an offering of gratitude. It can be the woman who carries water to your horses when you are hurt. It can be waking up warm and safe in someone’s arms. It can be collecting seed catalogs and mucking barns beside each other to improve and repair the life I was barely making work alone. That is the story happening now.

And I don’t know how to share it while keeping it ours. Keeping it as magical and healing as it needs to be. So I may not be writing much at all about her anymore, but I will update you on the farm and this new story. You will certainly read more about that book, and hopefully have it on your own shelves not too long from now, but right now the stories are those pages are being lived. The emotions, realizations, prayers, and tears are happening. Changes in body, lifestyle, and my goals are happening. It’s a happy little chrysalis, this house. And while there are still the fears of losing this home, they are battled and shared with a tiger by my side. A woman so strong and talented and real sometimes I just cry when I realize for the 400th time she is real and here.

So know that I am well. So far, Covid free and just six weeks behind on the mortgage instead of three months. So far still planning pork shares and soap orders and doing my best to make it through a day one check-list at time, but with my gaze not on the small goals but the sighs ahead. The snowfalls and sunshine, the chicks and the omelets, the procrastination and the publishing. It all will happen. And at least now, it’s happening with someone holding my hand.