When I was in fifth grade, we moved from a small-ish West Texas town into the country surrounding it. Our physical address was a farm-to-market road, and every morning we drove down a caliche path past a windmill and across a cattle guard to turn left on that road and head towards town. The windmill was visible from the FM road when we were on our way home, and seeing it was my cue to start getting my things together after the long car ride.
The windmill creaked and complained enough that its noise eventually became something I no longer noticed. When I think of the sounds of living in the country, the windmill is one of the first to come to mind, followed closely by the sound of rain on the tin roof and wind blowing through the live oaks outside my bedroom window. The sound of the windmill combined with cats jumping off the porch railing onto the porch below (think slow but purposeful footsteps) once sent my overactive imagination spinning such that I huddled in my closet for hours with a butcher knife, counting the seconds until my mom came home. But that was early in my tenure as a country girl; I got used to the quiet and hum.
I liked the country. I liked going fishing and having to stay alert for rattlesnakes. I loved the deep dark at night and the way the scooped-out land in front of the house met the edge of the caliche path right at the windmill, with the sky full of stars hovering over it all like a mixing bowl turned upside down. A dreamy little girl like me could get lost in that, and I did. Regularly.
The house had a huge wraparound porch with a porch swing on one end, and even though my years in that house were not especially happy ones, I loved that swing. It was the perfect place to take iced tea on a hot day or a quilt and a book on a chilly day; the perfect place to sit with a boy who was nervous about holding my hand and hope he might work up the nerve to steal a kiss or two; the perfect place to have conversations, tell stories and jokes, make decisions. If you asked me to distill all of my hopes, goals, and dreams for my life into one specific thing--the milestone that tells me I've finally made it to somewhere I really want to be--it would be a porch swing where I could sit with the people I love.
Someday, maybe. Someday.
For now, though, there are so many other things that take priority. I cut the final thread in quitting my job last week when I told my students I wasn't coming back next year. And even though that frees us in many ways, I also turned in applications for middle school and kindergarten for my two younger kids that will tie us to specific places and communities for the foreseeable future. Seems like the porch swing will just have to wait.
For now, I'll try to be a windmill instead. I'll do my best to catch the energy in the air flowing around and above me and use it to propel my little family forward. Forward into what, I don't know. But forward, another step down the road to wherever it is we need to be.
As long as I don't run into Don Quixote, we should be fine.
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.