Thursday, August 18, 2011
My friend at work was presenting a theory or concept that who we are and what we are about can be tied to "three places" and I was trying to get her to expound on that idea a little. It intrigued me. What does that mean? Can it be said that you can find out who I am if I give you a closer look at the three places that mean the most to me? I am willing to give it a try.
I found a picture first of our colt in a small pasture when she was just a wee little one. I have never been an experienced horse woman. I am a horse lover, but not an equestrian. Horses represent something inside of me that I cannot get out of my system. I want the attitude of freedom you see in a horse...yet I know they are crazy-tied to their herd and do not want to be alone. When we were kids we'd visit my grandparents on their farm in North Dakota, and I must confess I love the smell of manure. There's nothing like a good old whiff of barn. When we lived on a small farm in Indiana, our neighbor raised hawgs, and I cannot tolerate that smell at all. But give me an old barn that once housed cows and horses, and I'm in hog heaven. As far as places go, I want the habitat of horses...the wide open fields, the pastures, the barely standing barb wire fence. I want the old windmill and the rusty weather vane, the round bales and the wagon full of square bales. I want the horse with grass coarsely tossed across his flanks, hooves firmly planted and listening through the dirt. Horses remind me of my children, and the relationships we share. There is a hierarchy within those relationships, a give and take, a need and want that we share with one another. Horses are extremely loyal, and I have tried hard to instill that in our family. That no matter what, we are loyal to one another.
The second place that matters to me is the old homestead, and that's kind of funny coming from a military kid because we never really had one. My folks retired in Texas, and 931 Cottonmouth Drive became home to us but I was already a teenager by then. In the backyard there was a huge live oak, and over the years my brothers built a fort in the top of the tree. I guess I hammered in a few footholds and climbed up and down their makeshift ladder, but it was a boys clubhouse and hide-out. It represents shelter to me. Stacy was the last to leave home, and we all moved off to college and our adult lives, but the tree weathered every storm and I always checked on the old tree when I'd come home to visit. It still stands at 931 Cottonmouth Drive. It's a lot worse for wear; all our old boards have fallen off, limbs have broken and dropped to the ground; lumber's been extracted to prevent passers by from being injured; but there's a skeleton of a tree left in the yard. That tree represents everything wonderful about the home my parents created for us. We had our ups and downs like all families do, but the analogy between this tree and the giving tree is real to me.
Finally, my place is Arlington. Arlington is where my parents are buried, but more importantly, it represents the life we were blessed to live. Our parents taught us that freedom isn't free, and my father was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to insure we all lived in the world he wanted for us. He instilled those same values in my brothers. All of us kids chose public service as a way of life. As a military wife, my mother bore the brunt of my father's career choices, raising us alone for so many many days. I see Arlington, and I think of her sacrifices as well. My parents taught us how to love, and Arlington represents that love for me.
So those are my three places, and maybe there is something to this theory after all. Does each place represent who I am and what I am all about? I think maybe they do. It doesn't mean I'm done with places or traveling, or putting down new roots, but something tells me no place I go can replace these places; they are my geography, my history, my places on this life map.