If you would have told me five years ago that I’d be living in a little white farmhouse right smack dab in the middle of 120 acres of grass seed, I would have laughed in your face.
Since I was a kid, growing up in landlocked Eastern Washington, I’d been determined to live in a city.
In a walk-up, brownstone apartment to be exact. Above shops, and cafes, and the kind of buzz you just don’t find in the ‘burbs.’
My parents told me time and time again that I wasn’t cut out for city life. That I wouldn’t like it. That I’d feel claustrophobic. That I’d always been a big fish in a small pond and might not do too well with things the other way around. I’d roll my eyes and ignore their admonishments, usually muttering something about “skipping town the first chance I get.”
But for some reason, instead of choosing the several city-based schools I applied to, I went to a private liberal arts college in a small Oregon town. Where I met, and eventually married a third-generation farm boy from Silverton. Who I knew, come hell or high water, wanted to settle in his hometown someday.
Through it all, I held stubbornly to my dreams of city living, determined I wouldn’t be happy until I gave it a shot. Romanticizing the accessibility of fine dining and fresh produce, the variety of culture and community, and the appeal of a “simpler,” smaller space to live in. Five years in to our marriage, we found a nice compromise. My 6-foot-3 husband agreed to spend a year in a 650 square foot apartment and I finally got my brownstone. And you know what? From the day we moved in, the very day I got everything I thought I’d ever wanted, I started dreaming of the farm.
It’s been almost six months since we moved to our 1932 farmhouse just outside Pratum. Six months of quiet. Of darkness and stars in the sky. Of sunrises and sunsets. Of rainstorms blowing in across the fields. And tractors driven by my relatives passing by with a friendly wave. Six months of weekly trips in to town for groceries and goods, high school basketball games and playing in the park. Six months of feeling more content and more at home than I ever have in my life, and not missing for one second my former dreams of city life.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, as my mother-in-law and I walked dozens of city blocks and tried to navigate the public transit system, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. While I enjoyed researching restaurants, riding trolleys and eating my fill of street food, a quiet voice in the back of my mind said, “Aren’t you glad this isn’t home? Aren’t you glad home means green fields and quiet mornings and long walks with a chocolate pup? That the only traffic jams you deal with are caused by a slow-moving tractor. That the closest you get to noise pollution is an onslaught of coyotes howling through the night.”
Don’t ask me to explain how in five years a determined city girl becomes a card-carrying country mouse because I’m not sure I could tell you. Maybe it was the magic of the farm. Or the stark reality of being squished into a tiny downtown apartment. Maybe it was a process of getting to know myself or a product of years of subliminal messaging by my husband. Whatever it was that finally tipped the scales, I’m sure glad it did. And I’ve never in my life been so glad to be wrong.
Writer, photographer and chef
Kali Ramey Martin lives in the Pratum area.
Visit her blog at birdisthewordpdx.com.