Wildly Free

100 acres. 100 acres of pure, indefinable heaven. All of my teenage years were spent migrating away from there, reaching desperately for freedom, for somewhere bigger and faster and more. “I have to show everyone! I have to be the person who picked her life up and started brand new, somewhere, ANYWHERE that isn’t here.” I did. I currently am. I hate it. All that I crave from deep down to my core is to be there. To be home in the country, wondering those 100 acres, barefoot, quiet, where the world is slow and good and okay.

We spend our whole lives searching for who we really are. I spent all of my teenage years convinced that I knew. You know 17; you know everything. Except you don’t.

If you’d asked me then who I was, none of my answers would equal a person really. They were just things. Things that I wanted to do, not because they were who I was, but because they made me who I thought other people wanted me to be. Their approval was everything, of course. Straight hair, heavy makeup, if the trend was a blue streak in the hair, then sure, that was me, too. Short shorts, crop tops, name-brand clothes were a must. Cheerleading, homecoming court, yearbook superlatives, athletic boyfriends; that was everything! How crushed I’d be if I didn’t have those things. I could never be seen as “weird” even though I’m weird and goofy and a sense of humor is freaking beautiful; No, I’d scoff at anyone you tell me is weird because we simply can’t be that. I HAD to be the one who they admire for getting away from this town and making something of herself.

In college? Freedom. That’s all I could taste, so deep on my tongue that I followed it into places that didn’t feel good. Partying and boys and attention of any kind. It didn’t feel like who I wanted to be, but the freedom was new and exciting, and I chased the heck out of it no matter what that costed me. Some weekends my heart hurt so much from all that I was doing, I’d go home to those 100 acres, not at all wanting to admit how much better my heart felt when I was there, because I had a point to prove. It wasn’t an option to go back, it wasn’t an option to want that.

A reputation is like a handprint in wet concrete. It fades over time, but no matter how weathered, it’s always there. To many people, I’m sure that I still am some of those things. Some days thinking about that weighs on my heart. I’m not proud of everything I’ve always done. Is anyone? I want to explain, I want to take it back, I want to prove that none of that is me now. But quickly that gets pushed aside, replaced with a different feeling:

I’m just not that person anymore, and that’s enough for me. Mostly, I’m sure, because I am so at peace with who I have found that I am.

I met this man who I fell madly in love with, and in that process, I found that I also felt two other things: fear and want. Fear that he wouldn’t accept me for all the times I thought I knew who I was, but didn’t. Fear that my following other people’s lead, or worse, following no one’s, would push him away. Fear that my mistakes would cancel out his love for me. But the want to be honest was more, because falling in love revealed to me what I wanted the very most; to be completely, unapologetically myself. Perhaps such an incredible fraction of that is because when I met Kurt, I met the rest of me. The pieces that I couldn’t find of myself were in him, and he completed this mystery that I never knew was gone until he was with me. It was clear as day, but only after we found each other.

He was like this shock that brought me back to life; this deep, incredible, full breath of air after not being able to breathe for so long, but not knowing why. To my utter surprise, even the darkest of my honesty didn’t budge him. He pulled me closer, he loved me more, he married me on those 100 acres that I spent so much time trying to get away from, that time proved to me was the only place where my heart was at perfect peace.

I married him barefoot. Unless they’re for dancing, I hate shoes. My hair is brown and this wonky wavy texture, and do you know what? It’s okay not to hide that with a straigthener, 17 year old me. Designer anything is a mystery, half the names I can’t pronounce, and even if I can, I usually don’t like it more than the Walmart brand anything – turns out thrift stores and sales don’t embarrass me, they excite me. I have no interest in Beyonce, pumpkin flavored anything, Grey’s Anatomy, or really many of the things it seems like most girls like. My favorite color is grey, not pink. I feel more comfortable in my skin with my body fully clothed but my face a bit more bare; turns out freckles aren’t so bad, 17 year old me. All girls are supposed to like wine, right? I hate it. I’d take a beer over it 100% of the time, but 100% of the time over that, I’d take a Diet Coke. 21 year old me, did you know it’s okay to drink a soda at a party? Yeah, you can still go. No, no one cares if you don’t drink.

But none of those things fully make me, me – those are merely likes and dislikes, preferences – not the empathy or heart or brain that make up who a person really is.

I never used to know that I enjoy being alone. Probably mostly because to know that I liked being alone, I had to allow myself to be just that, and being alone was scary, I thought. “No, it’s cool to be an extrovert. I want to be that!” But that’s not who I am. I’m an introvert, a homebody to the center of my being. Traveling looks cool, but just the thought is enough to make me homesick. It’s where my heart beats slow and happy, and no matter where I go, that’s exactly what I am; homesick.

A creative outlet is necessary, always. If I can’t dance, I write. If I can’t write, I dance. Both massive parts of my being.

I thrive on time with family, and the longer I go without being around them, the more lost I begin to feel – the only people I’ll happily surrender my alone time for.

I’m a wife of a man I love so fiercely, who is one in a billion, and that’s no exaggeration.

I’m a Mom, and that sentence will never leave my mouth without so much pride that I could burst at the seams. There’s no convincing me that my daughter is not the very thing that stitches me together, that I was quite literally sent to Earth to be her Mom.

I’m incredibly weird, and do you know what? Weirdness shouldn’t be scoffed at, 17 year old me, it should be highlighted. Whatever it is that makes you, YOU makes you not like everyone else, and that is really fun… To not be like everyone else. Or if you are, but that’s truly YOU, then that’s worth celebrating, too.

I am confident in my own opinions so much so that I feel no need to sway yours, but I’ll happily listen. An open mind is a teacher, you can explore things from a new perspective if you let yourself, so I’ve found.

Does it look weird that I’m reading a book by the pool called, “Do Dead People Watch You Shower?” Yes, I’m sure. But I love that book, I’ve read it twice. Why would I pretend like I don’t?  I also love reading memoirs. Who knew?

I gravitate toward warmth; things that are funny, people who are a light; man they’re the best things for a heart.

What I promised my teenage self I’d do, I did. Kurt and I both packed up our lives and moved. To Tennessee, then seven hours from there to a part of Virginia neither of us were from. In proving to other people that we’d leave and make something big of ourselves, we were really slowly proving to ourselves that the only opinions that mattered were ours, and that, that wasn’t what we wanted.

The hustle was one hand, the bustle was the other, and slowly but surely, they began to suffocate us. Traffic and a fast paced city and big jobs all piled up to make us one thing: unhappy.

We craved that 100 acres. We craved it for us, we craved it for our daughter, we craved the closeness of family. Stars over street lights, the singing frogs over honking car horns, the familiar backroads and gravel, more cows and tractors than people, muddy creek water and bare feet, even fishing occasionally; everything that I once wanted desperately to get away from was now everything I wanted to surround me.

All at once, I figured out why people don’t leave there. It isn’t because they don’t want to become something, it’s because they know exactly what they are – at peace in the country, in this little bit of heaven. Far away from the vastness of places that aren’t there; homesick for those mountains. It’s this part of the world that allows for the most refreshing disconnect from the rest of the world somehow.

The biggest surprise to myself? I’m a country girl at heart. The part of that, that I love is that it isn’t anyone else’s definition of country girl, it’s my own. It isn’t farming and cowboy boots and hunting season, it is quite literally a girl who loves the country.

Over time, you find pieces of yourself. Some you have to toss aside and others you grip onto as if your life depends on it. Maybe it even does.

100 acres. My Grandparents spent their life building this foundation, this little piece of heaven for our family. My parents stayed, I now see why. It’s where I left to find freedom, but where my freedom was all along. It’s the oldest and also somehow the newest part of my soul; where I feel I truly belong. It’s where I was born, where I left to find my life, and where I’m taking my life back to so that I can truly live.

I think that a part of me was born a little bit wild. Not wild in the world’s definition, maybe, but wild in mine; my soul wants to be home, but not inside of one. ‘Home’ to me is running around that 100 acres with my little girl who was born just the same; a little bit wild, but in being so, wildly free.

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