I was deep into my time at the farm. I had nearly forgotten what it was like to wake up in my own room or sleep late. I was living a dorm life in a farmhouse. The rules and regulations were never my favorite. Neither was the showering times or the bathrooms.
I have to admit it, like it or not, the replacement of time was me, away from my regular home in a quasi-institution.
I was away from my home and the memories of my beforehand life. I was away from the loss of innocent youth and the drug culture that took me in like an unfortunate friend. Plus, on the farm, I was away from the death of my Father. All of this was essential for me to move from one chapter to the next.
Had it not been for a few particulars, such as the justice system remanding me to treatment in the care of the farm, I doubt that I would have volunteered for a place like this. I would have never changed without life’s intervention. In which case, I assume my name would be on the other side of the statistics column.
There were times on the farm, which although hectic, I can recall the views in the early morning. I remember the mountains around me and the smell from the Earth, which was sweet and clean.
There were times that I swore I was about to lose my mind. There were times when my depression hit me and the painful thoughts and ideas of self-harm and tragedy trickled in like the unrelenting sound of a steady droplet that echoed from a faucet.
Yet the views of the hills and the trees and the pastures where the cows used to be were all somehow enough to grant solace during the troubled periods.
In fairness. There were never too many peaceful days. There was always something happening. There was always some kind of reprimand. This was a treatment mindset that was based on the ideas of a therapeutic community, which in fairness could never exist in times like now.
I was yelled at, berated, forced to sit in corners and wear signs. There were humiliation tactics that exposed me and my lies. I was made to eat everything on my plate. I had to eat when they served, like it or not, and everything was on an “On-time” schedule. There was no such thing as being late. This was simply not allowed.
There was no hiding here. There was certainly no way of coasting without being noticed. Everyone was noticed.
Either you drank the kool-aid or you didn’t. I suppose it took me a while. I suppose it took a few beatings from my life on life’s terms. Or maybe it was when my Old Man passed away and I was beaten by life into submission.
I was tired of my life as it was. I wanted out but there was no way to exit without a final strategy.
My father died at the end of December. The year was 1989. I was a kid. I was afraid. I was always trying to figure out where I fit in this world, which in fairness is something everyone questions.
I wanted to find a place where I belonged. I never saw myself as normal. I never felt comfortable in crowds and by no means was I ever able to shake my awkwardness or my anxieties, but yet, then there was the farm.
There were friends here. They were real friends. No one cared about how much money I had or if I had any connections for them.
There was no need to be tough and it was safe to be myself without trying to prove that I could be anyone else at the drop of a hat.
There were people like John and Kevin. Well, in fairness there were a few named John. There was John S. and then there was John W. and John Q.
There was Brad and then there was Shane. They were there for me too. And then there was Mike S. He was a good friend to me. I admired him. I mourned him when I heard the news that he passed away. There was Jimmy and Chris A.
I have not seen many of these people in decades, yet, I remember them with enough love that I would open the door to my home to them.
The truth is everyone has their own demons. We all have our own thoughts that refuse to stop and trickle like the unrelenting sound of a dripping faucet.
The friends I had from the farm are people that helped me normalize my concerns in life. These friends allowed me the understanding that above all, this is only life and I am only human. Without this lesson, I might have sunk into the misunderstanding that something was actually wrong with me.
The problems with the thought machine are simple, yet complex. The truth is the idea of fitting in and social comfort is only imaginary. They are blockages in the mind. They are phantoms, which appear real.
Awkwardness is internal, which means if I saw myself this way then I naturally assumed everyone else saw me the same way.
I had to learn how to readjust my view. I had to learn to shed the old skins of my regrets and rid myself of the past; otherwise, I would never be able to step away and be free enough to spread my wings.
Youth is a cocoon. And like all cocoons, eventually we break free to fly away and live our life. For me, the farm was a launching pad.
I ever tell you about the time I was sweating and walking through a field of hay bails and tossing them onto the back of the truck?
The funny thing is if you had asked me then, I’m not sure I would have regarded this time as the best of my youth. But it was.
I was a 17 year-old kid on a farm and out of trouble. My life was only about to begin. I was cleaned up. I was healing from the emotional self-inflicted wounds, and above all, I was on the farm and about to be 18.
I always wondered what happened to some of my old friends like John W.
I’m sure he remembers where we were. I wonder if he knows how much his friendship helped me. Either way, I’m grateful.