I feel as busy as one of my own bees, lately. I haven’t pollinated any flowers (or built any honeycomb or fed any larvae) but I have been working four different wonderful jobs. It’s interesting to look at my life at 27–it’s nothing at all like I expected it would be, and so much better than I could have possibly imagined.
At 21, I expected 27 years old would still have me in grad school, on my way to a PhD and definitely still married. I thought I might own my first home and maybe be getting ready to have my first child. I had a very neat, orderly, middle-class life planned for myself. That doesn’t mean it was the kind of life I wanted, but it was the kind of life I was supposed to want. I had to think about my husband, after all, and his desires and career; I had to think about the likelihood of providing for my mother and sister in the future. That middle-class life was the ticket to taking care of everyone I loved, to ensuring they had all their wants and needs fulfilled.
I knew I didn’t really fit into the boxes I was building for myself, but I tried really desperately anyway. I just did my best not to think about how little enthusiasm I had for my picket-fence future, or I drank enough I didn’t think about it. When my marriage ended, I realized how miserable I’d let myself become for no reason other than imagining I was giving the people I loved what they wanted when I should have just been trying to make myself happy.
My vision of happiness post-marriage was pretty fuzzy. I knew without a doubt it involved farming, but I didn’t really understand what “farming” would entail. I also didn’t really understand what being my own person would mean: I had spent so long tailoring the most mundane bits of my life to fit the needs and convenience, real or assumed, of my husband, that even grocery shopping alone was an alien task. What do I really want? was a confounding question, whether I was buying laundry detergent or figuring out what to do with the next year.
It was enormous and awful and it stayed that way for a very long time. Two years, actually, and I would not claim that it’s over yet. But it’s getting better, and finally I’m able to look back on where I’ve been and tell that where I’m going is so much brighter. It’s like that trick of light after a storm has blown through: the clouds that used to be above your head are black in the distance but you’re standing bathed in sunshine.
And here I am at 27, bathed in sunshine. My life is anything but normal or middle class and I have absolutely no idea what my future will bring. I have two busy hives of bees who have treated me to amazing and heart-pounding experiences. I work as a cashier, a research assistant, a farm worker, and a freelance writer, and those jobs give me everything I could possibly want in the realm of people and food and agriculture. I serve and work with people who are fun and generous and kind; I do research towards expanding the consumption and sale of local foods; I drink in natural beauty and grow amazing veggies; I write about food and agriculture for a wide audience throughout the Triangle. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t stop and think this is the life I built for myself. And I feel proud–I didn’t do it alone, but I did it for myself.
I’m so grateful to be where I am right now. Thank you, everyone who has read my blog or sent me money or been my friend through the last few years. I have needed every bit of kindness you’ve shown me, and I dearly hope to repay it someday.