I could say I used to live on a farm.
I could also say that when I was on a farm, I never felt more alive. Or alone.
I was lonely, because my friends lived in town.
The only neighbours for a square mile were Harry and Edith, an elderly farmer and his wife.
Edith liked to serve canned meat. She also had crystal dishes with chalky mints and shortbread cookies.
Harry had a horse. He would pull us on a homemade sleigh every winter.
Part of the ride was exhilarating. The other part was cold and exhausting.
I remember them as warm and friendly. And conservative.
I remember Edith’s hands used to shake when she poured tea.
I remember that Harry got upset when our dog ate his chickens. We had to put our dog down. Also because it bit people and was killing kittens by shaking them until their necks broke.
I remember the sound of the shot, but my Dad tells me I wasn’t home that day.
It’s funny what we remember.
I remember a fork of lightning splitting above my head and hitting both the garage and a utility pole at the same time, like one giant electrical upside-down Y. The sound was so loud I thought it would evaporate me. My Dad said that actually happened. He was with me.
I remember finding baby mice under a plywood board in the yard. I ran to get Mom but by the time she arrived the mice were gone.
I remember the giant, leaning barn. It had multiple stories, and looked like a house Paul Bunyan would live in. One day there was a monstrous CRACK! and the barn fell over. Luckily no one was inside. I was amazed that something so big could fall. (I wouldn’t feel that way again until 9/11/2001.)
I remember being… not happy… but content. Like I could contend with my place in the world. There weren’t many freakouts. Things were just accepted.
I didn’t start freaking out until we moved to the big city when I was 9. That’s when I started yelling at my parents. That’s when I threatened to run away from home or to call child services because I was angry or upset about something vital/trivial. Looking back on it now, it might have been the city that upset me. It kept me up at night. It served a dull throb of constant energy. It felt destructive.
I was used to falling asleep in the car and being carried into a dark house. I was used to crickets and frogs. I was used to the northern lights.
A farm is endless work. You are constantly battling nature for your space in it.
A space in the city has already got nature beat. Instead you are battling other humans for peace of mind.
I’m not sure which battle is harder.
All-Day Breakfast is a daily reflection on creativity and the human condition in the modern age. This is issue #220 of 555.
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