Saturday, May 14, 2016

Five Years Ago Today

2011 - The college graduate.
     As I attended my brother-in-law's college graduation last Sunday I started to think back onto when I was walking across the same stage five years ago, and it's hard to believe it's been five years now since I graduated from college, and started a new chapter in my life.  Five years ago today I was excitedly graduating with my dream degree in American Studies, and even had a position in my field as an Interpretive Guide at a Colonial American historic site all lined up for me to start after graduation.  Little would I know then, that today, five years since, I would no longer have that job, or any other job in my field (although I still give historical presentations and study a local region here in Pennsylvania, but it's not really considered my "job" anymore).  

     Over the last five years there's a couple of thoughts that I just can't seem to knock from my mind in regards to my college experience, and what my husband and I jokingly refer to as the "most expensive dating service we could find" (as we met in college, but neither of us have jobs in our intended professions today).  Among these thoughts is that unrealistic thought that most of us have at some point in our lives of "if we could go back in time."  Would I let my newly graduating self know what the future holds, or would she think herself five years down the road absolutely crazy?  So, to my newly graduating self five years ago, I can only say, you have no idea what you're getting yourself into, and if I told you, you'd never believe it...
To the Recent Graduate:
2010 - Getting into character
for a lawn party while an
interpretive guide in college.
     Your life is not going to turn out how you think it is right now.  Future You won't be a museum curator or exhibit designer, or even an interpretive guide.  You won't be living your life in high heels, khakis and dress shirts, worrying about how to reprimand politely, but firmly, some tourist trying to lean against a historic artifact, or another who insists that everything is a reproduction so they should be able to touch it.  (Spoiler: museums and historic sites are not generally filled with repros).  Your days of worrying about black snakes wrapping around your arm during a tour, wearing historic garb as the temperatures climb towards the triple digits, and trying to entertain rooms of school children will be short lived.  Instead something that you never thought you'd be in your wildest dreams is going to happen, and you're going to love it.  Trust me.  
2012 - Overflowing my then-
boyfriend's (now husbands's)
apartment balcony.
     Those fourteen tomato plants that you'll put in next year on your boyfriend's patio, along with a plethora of other vegetables to make him feel a little more at home, will turn into rows and rows of tomatoes once you get married.  (Yes, you're getting married!)  Instead of dreaming of an apartment of your own close to work, you'll begin to realize that life in town/in the city is just noisy, and within five years you'll be listening to the banjo of bullfrogs across the way as you tend to your tomato plants, and an abundance of other vegetables and berry bushes, on a four-acre farm you rent.  
2013 - Farm machinery at work in
the field behind the house.
      You won't be driving over an hour (one-way) to work anymore, weaving in and out of tourist traffic and buggies, praying you don't get stuck behind farm machinery.  Instead home will be your job.  Those buggies and farm machinery that you once dreaded getting stuck behind will constantly pass by your new job.  The friendly faces inside them will wave.  And, you will be stuck behind them, at least every other time you run errands during the week, but you won't be in a rush to get past them as now you realize those buggies and farm machinery are just a way of life.  It gives you time to stop and smell the farm fields - yes, you'll actually like the smell of manure - in your otherwise busy life.
2014 - Mini, Whitey, Gravy and
Skunk hanging out in the mudroom.   
     Your busy life will consist of meetings and Scouting events nearly two hours away a couple times a month, and your attempts to get to church (an equal distance away) at least semi-regularly.  To counter all of the time spent away from home, you'll actually become a semi-morning person so you have time to tend to the huge gardens, cats and chickens.  (Yes, you're going to have animals, but you won't consider the chickens pets.  It's really possible.)  They'll be a lot of work crammed into the six days a week you work, as you'll only take care of the necessities on Sunday.  Yes, can you believe it?  Sunday will actually be a day of rest.        
2015 - Bringing in the first deer.
     Although you think you can easily handle all of this extra work and a job outside the house at the same time because it "doesn't sound like much," I'm here to tell you, it's not possible.  Along with the hour of morning chores, there will be hours and hours of weeding your garden.  (You know, that job you hate?)   They'll be dishes that never get done, and you'll actually wish you had a dishwasher, even though you never once used the one in your boyfriend's college apartment because who needs a dishwasher?  They'll be deer to process during hunting season, cats to fend off when butchering chickens, moldy berries and tomatoes to remove from the good ones when the canning runs behind the rest of the work, and your always-queasy stomach will become a little tougher.  
2016 - Five years later.
      They'll be hard times when money is tight and you're not sure how you'll pay all the bills, but each month when you make it through, standing side by side with your husband, you'll have a different sense of accomplishment than you'll ever know walking across that stage today.  No certificate, degree, trophy or award will ever match this sense of accomplishment you have when you nurse a sick animal back to health, rush to save tomato plants that are blowing over during a horrid rain storm (only to right them and have them fall again, but miraculously still produce), or eat fresh produce you preserved from your own garden in February.  Because although you don't think this will ever be the life you will have, let alone want to have, in five years, you won't want to picture your life any other way.  
 Love, The American Haggard Housewife

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