In the spring of 2015, Glen and I steered our lives in a direction I hadn’t seen coming. We had dreamed of selling our Austin home—too big, too expensive and too time-consuming to keep up for just the two of us once the nest was empty—and we did. We also had dreamed of moving to the country, and we did. Those were two wonderful blessings for which I’m grateful every day, but they weren’t unexpected. We didn’t just dream; we planned. (Okay. Glen planned.)
But there were two things I didn’t expect:
• Our good fortune in finding this particular piece of property, which came on the market at the precise time we were free to make an offer, and that . . .
• Along with the land we would acquire a tiny herd of Black Angus.
Yes, we are cattle ranchers, ladies and gentlemen, even if we’re just small potatoes. We’re all kinds of official. We watch The American Rancher on Sundays. (Okay. Glen watches.) We have a sign at our front gate:
I even have a cool official mousepad:
It still surprises me that there are beeves on the land—our beeves—and once the sun goes down and the air cools a bit, they mosey out from under the trees, and emerge dripping from the stock tanks where they’ve soaked like benevolent black hippos, and then . . . they’re rambling all over the place. Amazing.
Now, however, there’s a change coming that feels even bigger, and I still can’t come to grips with it, despite all the waiting, hoping and planning Glen and I have done since moving out here 13 months ago: We’re about to build our forever home. On the range. It has begun, and it's exciting, but also fear-inducing. What bothers me isn’t the “home” part, or the “range” part. It’s the “forever” part.
For most of our marriage, Glen and I have moved every 2-3 years. Not for employment reasons, but because we enjoyed the change of scenery, and we liked dropping some of the baggage we inevitably acquired between moves. Then, quite unexpectedly, we lived in our last house for 16 years. Inertia? Lethargy? I don’t know, but we’d intended 7 years tops, planning to downsize when Katie went off to college.
When we finally moved out, and I realized I was sixteen years older than I’d been when we moved in, I felt my knees buckle just a bit. What the hell had happened? I’d always had the crazy notion that moving frequently not only made life interesting, but also somehow kept time at bay. I think I may have been right all along. Just look what I’d gone and done to myself by staying in one place.
So now the thought of deliberately planning for our forever home makes me kind of ill.
Not that we aren’t ready to move. After living in our 550 sq. ft. farmhouse for over a year, we’re beyond ready. It will be nice to have more closet space. (The two clothes hangers are for scale.)
It will be pleasant to walk on a level floor without crevasses in it.
And it will be terrific—terrific!—to move our books, art, furnishings and clothes from the outbuilding where they’ve spent the past two summers baking to a golden, crispy brown.
But still, there’s that word. “Forever.” It’s a concept I’ve never been comfortable with. As a child I cried over the thought of going to Heaven when I died. Why? Because Heaven lasts . . . f-o-r-e-v-e-r. The implications of that are staggering. Perhaps more so in the case of our new home, because, of course, “forever” means, “until we die.”
I envy friends and family who have a low tolerance for rootedness, with no place in their lives at the moment for forever homes. My friend Darla and her husband Herk, who at this moment are cruising the roads and byways from one majestic photo op to the next, in New Mexico and other magical lands in the great Southwest. The photographs Darla posts to Facebook are breathtaking: testaments to a freeing lifestyle I can’t begin to imagine. Glen’s sister Denise and her husband Jim, who marry their passion for nature with their love and respect for the American West, fearlessly pulling up stakes and resettling wherever and whenever their joy takes hold of them. How I wish I were brave enough to live a life completely on my own terms the way these four do.
But the truth is, neither Glen nor I are cut out for that. We enjoy seeking out fresh views and fresh perspectives; then we enjoy going home. Just don’t make me call it a forever home.
And I hate to admit it, but I really do love having the cows around. A new baby was born August 13th, a little bull calf. How can I not love that?
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