Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Open Letter to The Pioneer Woman

Dear Ree,

I am desperately envious of your life on a ranch, to the point that reading your blog makes me sad and desperate.

My biggest fear is that my fantasy of living on a ranch is not really what I believe it to be and that if I take this giant leap to move out West and figure out how to make it real, that I will be sorely disappointed.

Your website makes me believe that ranch life is all I imagine it would be (although in my version there are no calf nuts or cattle - it's not a working ranch that I seek). Your photos of horses and wide open land and big skies make me ache with longing. I desire the dirt, the hard work, the early mornings, the elegantly simple and functional ranch buildings. With every fiber of my soul, I want that life.

Is it possible for me to find what I seek? If not, please tell me now and put me out of my misery. I would rather know the truth and let this happy dream die than to move my husband and our dog and cats to the middle of nowhere for something that doesn't exist.

I guess I'm asking you for some kind of certainty, which I know you cannot give.

The dreams in my head stem from growing up in southern California, always wanting horses in my life and never quite figuring out how to make it happen. As you know, suburban life has plenty of distractions and I had a generally happy childhood. I went far from home to college and grad school, married my best friend who I met in college, and have finally settled into a career that I love. I make time for Western riding lessons and yoga once a week. We don't have any children yet.

You would think we would be happy. And yet… we are restless.

We dream of open spaces, mountains in the distance, big sky, and horses. Owning land. Riding the fence perimeter and weathering storms.

Our dreams seem to be in stark contrast with "real life". Where do we work, where do our kids go to school, where do we buy groceries? Will we have an internet connection? How far do we want to be from an airport?

And the fear creeps in. Can we handle this? Will our families think we're crazy? Is this a responsible course of action? What happens if we fail? How can we possibly afford to do something so risky? Can we afford it at all?

And yet, I continue to dream.

I dream of a home for my family. A place that encourages exploration and asking questions. A place that is modern and rustic at the same time, balancing access to technology and a reminder of our roots. A place where my children can learn and be challenged and will be prepared to contribute to improving their community on whatever scale they choose. A place where my husband and I can stretch and grow and learn more about each other. A place where we feel free.

I dream of the kind of place others want to call their home too. A place that has lots of visitors, people who come to get away from it all for a day, a week, or two. A place where they can walk for miles and see no one, where they can ride horses, a place where they can eat hearty, healthy food that tastes like home but better. A place where they can choose to spend their time in solitary retreat in their sunny and comfortable room, or where they can join in board games, puzzles, and other group activities with other visitors. A place where they are treated like family and where they feel whole. A place where they feel free.

I dream of a place that is a home for my soul. A place surrounded by open land, mountains, and horses. A place with dramatic thunderstorms, snowy winters, and breath-taking life. A place where a pick-up truck is used on a daily basis to haul things the way it was meant to. A place where cowboy boots are the footwear of choice and necessity. A place where four-footed friends are as common as two-footed friends. A place where I can sit and gaze as far as I can see, watching storms roll in, watching the wild herds running, crows feet gathering in the corners of my eyes from the sights and the smiles this place brings me. A place where I feel free.

Please, either tell me that this is possible and show me the way to achieve it, or tell me that it doesn't exist so I can find some way to be happy with a suburban life. I need to know.


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