On Monday night I got a call from a new friend, "McKenzie! Come have an art show at our house tomorrow night! Our friend is playing music and you and Matt can play music with us and hang your drawings up everywhere. Yes?"
The next day I hammered tiny nails in her wall and hung precisely twenty one illustrations and I stood back and looked at them and felt really really good and knew I'd accomplished something and made the right choices. This is my life now, I thought. I get to make art and feel loved every second and then go hang out with little girls and hold their hands and hear the littlest one tell me she got "hanitizer" on her (singular) Milk Dud at school and giggle and then go home and make more art and and...
I really can't even believe it sometimes. I feel blessed.
What happened in the past can stay there, in its place. A dark place when I remember being shoved up against walls and screamed at, when I remember the smell of alcohol on his breath, when I remember running into the night with salty tears streaming down my cheeks and wondering why it all had to be so beautiful and so ugly at the same time, when I remember blaming myself, when I remember how I justified that terrible behavior as sickness getting better but how it never got better, only worse. And now I can see and sometimes it's all clear but most of the time it still makes very little sense and I still feel the manipulation and confusion shrouding my mind- there's not a good way to describe it, but it's something like a beautiful quilt (the farm, its people, its animals, its wild growth of plants and purity of sunrise) making the truth crawl deeper and deeper into a cobwebby (yet very real and still existent) painful cellar. Does that make sense? Everything was so so beautiful and it was hard to imagine it needing to go on without me being there with him. And on that note, most people who blog now live in the city and long for the country and sometimes end up moving to a sweet homestead. Not the other way around. And even among the abundance of amazingly generous comments (which I'm shit at responding to but thank you so much for leaving them always) I've read one comment that said, "I liked it better when you farmed" and recently saw our wedding photo posted on pinterest with "I miss her blog" which makes it difficult because I know those commenters didn't know the full story or maybe didn't think about how I'm a real person behind the blog and life changes and yes, I put myself out there and maybe I should have thicker skin but in light of what I went through (and it could have been worse, true) it felt like prodding. It reminds me how there are still parts of me healing from wounds.
I had to leave, and I didn't know I'd end up coming to the city, but now here I am. There's a huge part of me that wants to share my story with other women (maybe in response to the most recent shooting and all this talk about how men treat women and not all men but yes all women.) I can't help but rack my brain to form reasons for it all, to form reasons for my own situation and relate them to external situations like this one. If I let myself, my mind swarms like a hive of lost bees with the reasons why a person could end up so hateful and narcissistic and full of vengeance but still so hurt, so hurt, so hurting, but from what and I've been hurt but I'm not acting that way and- you see?? There's no end, it's only this confusing loop. Every situation is different but it feels like there should be a simple answer, someone or something to blame and fix, like it's the media or lead exposure or early childhood abandonment or lack of maternal guidance or rape culture or gun culture... And here is where I'll stop.
This post wasn't necessarily meant to focus on questioning why, because there will never be one answer and I honestly don't know how to make those angry people happy except that sometimes distancing yourself from enabling them is the only thing to do.
I felt inspired to write because of the joy I've found, and I'd really really really like to share it in case there's someone who is feeling unable to escape a similarly mountainous situation, and is fearful of the Other Side. Two words: It's greener.
I hung my drawings on Anna's walls and went to read stories with the girls, then headed home after a few hours. In our backyard Matt has built me lots of little boxes where I've put plants that are now growing wildly. (The tomatoes not so much, this urban gardening in a shady backyard thing is totally new to me.) The point is, I smile every time I come home and I'm never afraid of walking on eggshells. Ever. The gestures of appreciation and kindness are abundant and reciprocating, and gratitude is so thick in the air it's stronger than the scent of honeysuckle on these warm June nights. I've never been happier. I've never been happier.
Matt has baked bread while I was with the girls, and there are oats crumbled on the bottom and I smother it with butter and we go to Anna and Chris' house. It's on a quiet, narrow street, almost like any alleyway, and there are little children running around kicking balls and a woman holding a diapered baby, chubby belly beautifully dark as night. An old man sits on a stoop with his neighbor next to a big vegetable garden in a vacant lot. Inside, more neighbor-kids run around and spill popcorn, and we talk among each other and play kalimbas, and then a wonderful guy named Shane plays banjo and tells stories with Anna on fiddle and at one point she gets up and does some flatfoot dancing. The whole time I'm thinking to myself that I could really not be any more fortunate than I am right at that very moment. My heart is so full it feels like it's about to burst open. The past ten months since I left the farm have been so challenging, yet so rewarding. My family and friends were so instrumental in helping me stand back on my own two feet. But you know what? My own two feet really were always there, though weak at times. It didn't feel like it some days, but they were. And yes, it's been about ten months. Ten months. Thanks for sticking around here if you've been along for the ride.
ps. sorry if this post was really all over the place and rambly