I went back to the ranch a couple of weeks ago.
I lived there once, ten years ago, as a hippy, part of a commune of hippies who attempted to grow their own food and make a living off the land. It never worked out that way (too many weeds, if you know what I mean).
It was a tough time for me. I was pregnant with my youngest son, and had no idea where my life was heading. But I grew close to the other hippies in the commune and I learned many lessons then: How to throw rune stones; How to live without electricity; How to cook falafel; How to load a bowl; How to separate recyclable plastics by grade; How to grow long leg hair.
When I left, I left that life behind. I started eating meat again. I quit smoking. I divorced my hippy husband and went back to college. I tried to forget my life there. It was painful to live there, and just as painful to leave.
So a couple of weeks ago, when I went back to visit, I prepared myself. I took reinforcements. I took a case of beer (to soften the blow). I took a hardened heart.
It was exactly as I remembered it. My ex-husband and his brother were still there, sitting underneath a big oak tree near the field where they were still attempting to grow vegetables and make a living off the land (now the deer are interrupting their plans, though). Nothing had changed.
Nothing, but me. I'm a writer now, not just a dreamer. I'm a college graduate (well, sort of), with a career and a closet full of suits and heels.
But more than that, I am a woman grown, with a son in high school and a five-year plan (that changes as the seasons change, but we don't need to talk about that right now). And I'm happy.
Finally. Happy. To live in the moment. To be where I am, doing what I am doing. Living. Changing. Thriving.
The ranch is beautiful. It will always be. But the world is so much wider than that place. And I am so grateful to have left the ranch, to have seen some small part of the world.