So, today is the big day when my dad sells the farm and it becomes someone else’s responsibility. However, that’s not really what this post is about. It has a tie to my childhood and growing up on the farm, though.
The title of the post sort of popped into my head as I’ve been thinking about how lucky I was to grow up on the farm, but it also relates to one of my all time favorite movies. I lived on the farm until I was in third grade and my parents divorced, and then my sister and I moved into town with my mom for several years. My mom just didn’t take care of us that well, though, and when I was fifteen I made a really hard choice to trust my dad and reveal some things to him. It resulted into us moving back to the farm to be raised by my dad.
A few years before we moved back, Out of Africa hit the theaters. My mom did not have a working car at that time, so we walked wherever we needed or wanted to go. There was a dollar theater, but it was several miles from our house. I think it took about two hours to walk there, but we did on the first night the move was open, and I fell in love with it. I loved it so much that I dipped into the money I had stockpiled so that all three of us could go almost every night that week that it played. I can still hear the music and hear that opening line.
I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. — Out of Africa
All I know is that Karen Blixen, aka Isak Dinesen, is a person I would love to sit down and have dinner with. The story of her life in Africa fascinates me. I envy her life of adventure and a certain freedom from social conventions. There are certain aspects of the story that really resonate for me, as well. I love the contrast in the movie and story of the wild, vast, untamed land they lived in and the civility that she brought with her to her new home. One of the things I’ve always loved about the movie is the pair of Scottish Deerhounds that she often had in her company. At one point, she had to go away to be treated for syphilis and when she arrives back, the dogs are eager to greet her. When she leaves Africa in the end of the movie, never to return, I felt a sense of loss that was almost personal.
It was the first view I had of any kind of sighthound, and they definitely made an impression on me, even though they aren’t a major part of the movie. In the back of my mind, they became linked with elegance and civility, although they do have a bit of an untamed streak down deep, too. I guess a part of me still dreams of living my own version of the movie, with my pair of Greyhounds having larger than life adventures. Maybe growing up somewhere that gave me my own ties to land with a past helped to fuel my imagination.
What I do know is that even though a lot of aspects of my childhood were really difficult, I am thankful that I had many of the experiences that I did. My life certainly hasn’t turned out to be the grand adventure that Baroness Blixen had, but it’s been wonderful in its own way. I will always have a dream of seeing Africa, although I don’t know if I will ever get there.
It seems wrong to go on an adventure like that now without my canine sidekick, though. The person I’ve grown into has a different set of dreams to go along with the dreams of exotic adventure. I think it’s interesting how you can see something that sparks an idea in you that you carry with you for a long time and how other experiences in your life can help to mold that original dream. Dogs have always been an important part of my life, and I love being able to get out and do things with them, but I also love being able to come home and enjoy our down time together. A part of me will miss the dream of taking over the farm I grew up on, but the other part is glad I don’t have to live through the summer without air conditioning. Just like Karen Blixen, I enjoy my creature comforts very much, and I’m always glad to come back to our little house on the hill after our adventures are over. I also realized this week that in many ways, I really am living my dream, even though it’s imperfect.
When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them. – Out of Africa