A mistake I thought as we pulled up in our U-Haul truck to our recently purchased farmhouse in rural Oregon. That was on a cold, dismal rainy day in 1993. The place was overgrown and sad looking. When we entered, the previous owners had not cleaned. The house smelled of their chain-smoking. There was no choice but to get to work.
We froze for the first two winters. Eventually, we got the place cleaned up, insulated and a new heating system installed. Only then could we start thinking about cosmetic improvements. Our son started first grade at the small school across the road.
My husband had been in a depression and said he would be happy if he could live in the country. As for me, I had lost track of how many moves I’d experienced since leaving home at 19. After university, I was like a tumbleweed in search of Nirvana, working seasonally in far-flung places of Alaska for the better part of 10 years. Now, with a young son in tow, I was ready to put down roots, even if the house and the town weren’t perfect.
My now ex-husband moved on after a few years. He was wrong. Living in the country did not make him happy. Happiness is an inside job. I realized that though and I married myself to this place determined to build a life for myself and my son.
That was 26 years ago this May 31st. The house is now cute, cozy, with a big garden & lots of roses. The generic rural area has now become “The Wine Country.” I am interwoven into the fabric of the community and have great friends. I know the names of the UPS guy, the mail lady, the receptionist at the pool, many business owners, and the birds that frequent the feeder. Another, more suitable man, shares my life as well as my old dog, Bandit. Then there are the sweet memories of the dogs and cats that have passed before him. My son grew up but lives relatively close by and thinks of this as home. In this place, my hair has grayed. In this place, I grew to be at home in my own skin.
I finally found Nirvana.
Was built on the dreams of the Kalapuia Indians
Looking for game and camas root to feed their families
Of weary pioneers ready to cease their westbound journey
Of dairy farmers looking to build a livelihood
Of generations of families
Looking for a peaceful life
Including my own
The forest & oak savannah
Have long been cut down
Giving way to field and orchard
And now on the hills, vineyards
The dairy cows are long gone
And more cars fill the country roads
But the house still stands
And I am still here,
With a better man
My child grown
The walls are infused with memories
And my dreams still blooming
Like the red roses on the arbor