I took a trip last weekend back down to some old stomping grounds. LA LA Land, what I affectionately call Los Angeles, was my home for four years while I was getting my undergrad degree at Loyola Marymount Univeristy. Strange perhaps considering about all you can farm down there is concrete and pigeons, but it was a decision that I made while still 18, impulsive, craving adventure and making sure that my next life step was not going to be in the confines of Oregon’s borders! Because when I say I’m from a small town, I don’t mean 10,000 people, or 5,000…St. Paul, according to its outdated population signs on the outskirts of town read a mere 322! So maybe you can understand why a glitzy and glamorous place like Los Angeles would sound like just the place for this small town farmer’s daughter.
So I was sitting there on the plane this past weekend, about to touch down in LA, and I realized that as much as I was ready to leave when my four years was up, I have to give some credit where credit is due to this thriving city. As I was walking off the plane and took that first big deep breath of humid, probably smog injected air, and heard a car horn honk, a part of me felt like it was home. I did a lot of changing while I was down south. Not only did I get a great degree in Business, circumnavigated the globe on a ship, and made some amazing friends. But I also learned how much I loved having seasons, how being dirty in the summer is oddly a necessity for me, that I wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer, and that my true calling and passion wasn’t something that I was going to find in LA, it was something that was waiting for me back home.
The credit that is due to LA however is that I’m not sure I would have ever found this appreciation for farming and rural life if I hadn’t left and gone to the extreme opposite type of place. Rural life, when it’s all you know, it doesn’t seem that great. You are in a place where it’s a bit boring, and you know everyone and their dog (literally). But then once you experience life in other places, like the big city, I was shocked to be surprised when I didn’t know someone, annoyed that there were people everywhere, and overwhelmed by all the activity!! Don’t get me wrong, I got used to this type of life, it just took awhile! And in the end it was true…”You can take the girl out of the honky tonk…but you can’t take the honky tonk out of the girl” And it showed, because there were times you just can’t hide where you come from. For instance when your nice pair of heels is a pair of cowboy boots and you’re just not sure why this is so strange to all your new friends in the dorm. Or when you say something like, “Oh my gosh the funniest thing happened to me while I was combining in the field last summer!” And your new roommate responds with, “What were you combining together?” (always followed by a lengthy description of a piece of harvesting equipment that we use during harvest). All in all people loved hearing about “The Farm”. It was a part of me that came to define much of who I was down there. I was the farmer, and I loved it, and it reminded me that it was ok to love it, embrace it, and be proud. I realized that my original decision to be brave and go face the scary unknown of the city, just brought me right back to what I’ve always known.
So when I visit now, I’m glad it’s just a visit. This slower way of life is addicting and I’m amazed at how tough it is for me to adjust back to a fast paced life, let alone the driving (will someone please teach Californians how to use blinkers?!) But it always brings me back to those days when I first realized that what I truly wanted was where I had been, and where I was going was all because of this slimy, gritty, beautiful, concrete town by the beach where I found who I was truly supposed to be all along.