“Everything you see
has its roots in the unseen world.
The forms may change,
yet the essence remains the same.
Every wonderful sight will vanish;
every sweet word will fade,
But do not be disheartened,
The source they come from
is eternal, growing,
giving new life and new joy.
Why do you weep?
The source is within you
And this whole world
is springing up from it.”
acrylic paint on paper...5.5 x 8.5
A friend once told me that he would not have guessed in a million years that I had grown up on a farm. It wasn't that I hid this information from him or anyone for that matter. I always have said grew up in rural Iowa on a family farm. I think he thought I was exaggerating. Everyone makes fun of you when you say you are from a place like Iowa. Most people from Iowa didn't grow up on a farm, but the first question you always get after you answer "Where are you originally from?" is "Did you live on a farm?". The second question always comes with a laugh, because the person asking is really only half kidding. When you answer yes, they think you're joking. This is my experience. I'm sure I would have a completely different experience if I showed up looking like a stereotypical country girl with a southern drawl (Enter the American girls from "Love Actually"!). My friend didn't believe me until he visited the very house I grew up in. It was a typical you have to see it to believe it story. He always knew I was telling the truth, but he couldn't place the person I am now--wearing my designer clothing and long blonde hair in the middle of nowhere doing what farm girls do. The truth is I couldn't picture myself doing any of that!
I always felt isolated there--even as a young girl in elementary school I felt this way. I wanted out...I felt trapped in so many ways. I was determined to do everything I could to get away. I'm competitive, driven, and focused. I channeled all of my energy into one thing that I knew would get me out of there--my education. Neither of my parents had attended college, and being the oldest child I was determined to break the mold. It paid off for me because by the time I was in high school I had a 3.9 GPA, I was involved in Softball, Cross-Country, Track & Field, every honor society & organization you could dream of. With the help of scholarships I was able to get out of the state...I went to college near Chicago, I interned in Washington D.C., after graduation I lived in Chicago in the Wrigleyville area for a little over a year and then moved to New York City where I have lived for the past 2 years. NYC is the antithesis of my hometown. As I'm sure you would imagine, there are zero similarities.
The odd thing is that you can work so hard to get away from something...to erase it even, but it always stays with you. You can never really escape it even if your life is essentially the exact opposite of what it once was, your past is apart of you--it shapes you whether you like it or not. I don't know if I was necessarily trying to "escape my past", but I suppose in many ways--perhaps unconsciously-- I was trying to do just that. Something must have led me to charge forward until I found myself living on the opposite end of the spectrum.
I appreciate the beauty--especially the scenic beauty-- of Iowa now that I moved away. The openness, the smells, the clear skies, the unobstructed views all went unappreciated when I was living there. If I step outside right now and look north I will be able to see as far as 59th street. Back home, when you drive on one of those narrow highways you will be able to see for miles-literally. I had to leave to be able to appreciate the beauty of that. Too often you take the things that are directly before you for granted. I never would have seen the beauty in a barn with peeling paint & a weathered roof if I hadn't left.