A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
My dad and I just watched our last two cows get butchered. For ten years my family tried half-heartedly to run a ranch. The experience was really more about my brothers and I growing up in an environment full of responsibilities such as raising cattle for beef, horses, goats, chickens for eggs and meat, ducks, of course a plethora of dogs and cats, building shit, taking shit down, gardening, etc. It was a great way to grow up even if the only result is that we know how to DO things such as solve problems on our own. Being the creative types that we are, however, lent itself to a situation where my brothers and I became busy with rehearsals, practices, shows, and our ever-lovely minimum wage jobs on top of our school work or we moved out to go to art school. Basically the ranch life slowly deteriorated. After ten years, it is time to move on from the ranch, time for a lifestyle change.
So, as I watched the sunrise through the trees on Monday morning while the last two cows dropped, it dawned on me that the life I have most consciously known, the life that pushed me into adulthood, is no longer my life. This dawn is new. Thinking on what little projection I can see for life in the next ten years has me emotional and excited. It will be a decade full of art, music, theater, new adventures, laughter, and love. A year from now I will have graduated with a four-year degree and start my life that doesn’t include a summer and winter vacation (or will it?). What a wonderful moment in time. My brother will have graduated from his program, another will be graduating high school, who knows what the other two will be up to but they’re strongly directing themselves towards music. We are, all of the people in my inner circle, moving forward towards a more rich and creative life: I’m in love with this change.
When we first moved onto property it felt like Disneyland compared to the gated communities we had lived in prior. With all of the space, the trees, the possibilities we ran around those 26 acres like there was nothing else in the world. I remember the first cattle we bought in an auction and naming them Juicy and Fillet to avoid getting too attached, but once Tom, the Butcher, came around there was nothing but excitement for some fresh, grass-fed beef. We were such good ranchers that when our first calf was born we didn’t even know Juicy was pregnant. There’s nothing quite like seeing an animal born, raised on the pasture unperturbed for its whole life, watching it receive a painless death and cleaned up only to fill your freezer and feed your family of eight for several months. We gave up on the detachment approach after that. Mostly the ranch was a space for us to explore and create. We constructed paintball courses and would have huge tournaments on the weekends, we built a half-pipe that was six feet tall and twenty feet long that we’d ride almost every day, we had relay races in the front pasture with all of the cousins while the parents and grandparents would laugh and shoot at us with airsoft guns, and we would ride dirtbikes and quads all over the hill. It was a place of expression, or as my dad calls it, “the Rockstar Factory.” We threw huge dance parties and costume parties, dug out a 150 foot slip’n’slide, and put together mini concerts on the porch; I mean the activities were endless. Unfortunately, living on property like that requires a lot of maintenance and all we wanted to do was create art and make music.
I’ve lived in a lot of places in my relatively short life and I’ll likely live in many more, but the ten years I spent on that piece of property was worth all of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into that place. Now, the time for that life has passed and it’s time for another lifestyle change. Time to downsize and re-prioritize our lives to accommodate the change that happened in this last year, but it is difficult to let it all go. My parents’ divorce, my grandpa’s suicide, my dog’s death, my mom getting a little crazy, my brother and I finishing up our artistic education, my youngest brothers-whose diapers I changed-getting their driver’s licenses and cars and jobs, people not doing anything but floating around exhausting their resources, and everyone is packing up and moving. I mean it has just been one thing after another and it has been exhausting. Accepting that life changes can often be one of life’s biggest challenges, but this time I could not be more excited, or more anxious, for what is to come. These next ten years are going to be even more awesome than the last.