A few years ago I saw a pen and ink rendering of a house. I immediately felt it was the house that would one day be mine – my family’s. The picture was presented as one of the options within a group of images we could choose to write about within my writing group. It was a picture that had been drawn by the friend of a writing group friend. The picture meant a great deal to him. I asked if I could have it following the writing exercise because I immediately felt a connection to the piece. After thinking about it, and seeing how much it meant to me, he said sure. I had it framed at my favorite frame shop and immediately put it on my wall.
The picture is simple. When I see it, I see an old barn house surrounded by mountains and trees. I see solitude in the branches of the trees in the foreground. I see possibility in the horizon that does not end beyond the mountains. I see room to grow. Even the fence is welcoming as it bends just a little. This could be the landscape where I grew up, if the mountains were a little more worn and the grass was blue. This could be almost anywhere where glaciers stopped or plates of earth collided and mountains formed.
This could be anywhere where someone had the constancy and persistence to build a barn. Barns seem permanent to me. They stand as a symbol of abundance and productivity. Communities used to raise barns together. Lazy people don’t seem to need barns. I am not lazy. I want a barn – or perhaps a house that was once a barn – or perhaps a barn that could have been a church and is now a house.
This is not a lonely space for me. I see sharing this space with animals. I see sharing this space with people. I see family dancing in this space. I see artists thriving in this space. I hear coyotes howl. I see eagles fly. I smell pine and salt water – or is that magnolia? My hands are busy. My heart is full. The buzz of happiness tickles my soul in this space. Even the frogs in the pond have smiles on their little frog faces. This is the kind of place that has to be shared and explored.
I currently live in a downtown loft in Cincinnati. A far cry from this picture. Somehow that makes sense to me for now. Right now my mountains are buildings and solitude is found in the rattle and hum of the urban engine. I could argue there is similarity to the quiet of a city and the quiet of a countryside. The more I learn about cities, the more I see the similarities in the rhythm of the life cycle. My life has taken me here.
Part of creating this picture in my life is imagining it. To be sure, I have firmly etched this image on my heart. I carry it with me. When I day dream, my thoughts go to this place. When I am asked where do I want to live in 15 years, I describe this place.