Yep, that's me on what used to be my family farm. That was the first time I had seen that piece of my family history in over a decade, but it no longer belongs to our family.
This last minute road trip to Huntsville, Alabama is what challenged me to ask some difficult questions and come up with some even more difficult answers; confirming some of my already existing thoughts, leading me to some new perspectives, and igniting my fire to take on the huge task of leaving the city life of Chicago to acquire my piece of paradise on the countryside.
It was early August of 2017, and after an 8-hour drive to drop off a relative at Alabama A&M, I wasted no time heading down the street, just west of campus, to the farm that I had grown up visiting my Great Aunt Mattie and Uncle Joe, who have gone on to be with The Lord for some time now. Although I didn't know the address, I didn't have much trouble finding it. That long driveway, leading up to the homestead and the church on the left has been forever etched in my mind. (That church owns the property now, by the way).
I walked around a bit to see what remained, and tried to envision how it all looked the last time I was there. I even tried to image how it looked at the turn of the 20th century. I could picture my forefathers getting up at the break of dawn to tend to their daily chores around the farm. (I'd trade that commute for Chicago's any day). I could even remember Uncle Joe sitting on the porch twiddling wood; the chicken coop, cows, and fruit trees to the west of the house. And who could forget the infamous tire swing in the back?
The house had been torn down the previous year. The fencing which used to contain the cows, now held some horses, and the old garage in the back was still standing. I didn't expect the old tire swing to be there, but, it was worth a look.... NO LUCK!!
After taking it all in, knowing that I was legally trespassing, I headed across the field to the church to introduce myself, and insure that nobody felt the need to call the cops or pull out their shotgun. What happened once I got to the church was something that I had not anticipated at all.
It's 5AM when you roll over to glance at the time on the clock. You lay there exhausted from the previous day of tasks that you hadn't completed and now the anxiety of this day begins to settle in. You don't have to be to work until 9, but there is so much that needs to happen before you can get there.
After laying there another 15 minutes, reading through text messages and scrolling through various, insignificant posts, pictures, and articles on all 7 of your social media apps, you finally drag yourself to the bathroom, hop in the shower, and prepare yourself for the day. (That was the easy part)
Now it's time to get the kids up, bathe them, dress them, feed them and send them off to school. You now have just enough time to sit in an hour and a half of traffic, just to make it to work 5 minutes late. After getting reprimanded by your supervisor for the second time this month and working the longest, most boring 8-hour shift since the one you worked the previous day, your day isn't even near finished.
You now have to weave back and forth in rush hour traffic for another hour and a half, just to barely make it in time to pick your kids up from extended care. Homework has to be done. Dinner needs to be prepared. Clothes have to be washed, ironed and laid out for the next day. And the kids need to be tucked away in bed.
It is now somewhere around 11PM. You finally get to have a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy the sound of nothingness. But, in the back of your mind, you begin to count down the minutes until you have to wake back up and endure this God awful routine, once more.
In that moment you begin to question your whole life. What am I doing? Is this all there is to it? Is there more out there for me? Will it always be like this? Will things ever change?
All these questions, we essentially have the answers to; Its just a matter of adding up the costs.