I GREW UP ON A FARM outside Independence, Kansas. My best friends as a toddler were turtles, pigs and cows. My mom would find me by following the trail of clothes I’d left behind. (what can I say…I loved being naked when I was a kid. My first full sentence was when I was 2 years old and my mom asked me, rhetorically of course, “Why won’t you keep your clothes on?” My response was “I wanna be free.” So there you have it.) I picked berries, helped mom in the garden by walking behind her un-planting the seeds she’d sown (even as a child I was well-meaning but ultimately a pain in the ass) and sat naked on turtles in the road poking at them with sticks.
I was a little naked redheaded farm girl living in Kansas.
AS A TEEN AND ADULT I spent my life living in the cities (and occasionally the suburbs) of Philly, Houston and Austin. (This, of course, isn’t counting the couple of years I spent living in my van, traveling around the country living in the middle of nowhere working the renaissance fairs with my dog, Lakota, and my less-than-pleasant chronically cheating charmer of an ex-boyfriend.)
THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING to do. I had my fill of galleries, museums, theater, ballet, shows almost every night of the week, parties, girls’ night at Atomic, beer, guys, craziness and drama while donning my purple/red/orange/green/blue/hot pink hair, piercings, shredded fishnets, combat boots and studded leather everythings.
I thought I had everything at my fingertips, but something was always missing.
WHAT I FAILED TO REALIZE during my time of urban living was that I wasn’t truly happy. I was trying to fill a void with distractions. That something I was missing was nature and my connection to it. I look back now and notice that I constantly tried to reach out to nature; to reconnect to it.
IN AUSTIN I HAD A SECRET densely wooded park that few seemed to know about tucked away in the heart of the city where I could wander about the woods without a trace of human induced noise other than what I created.
SURROUNDING HOUSTON I had my greenbelts. My wooded walking trails that wound through the residential neighborhoods where I would sit on the bayou and watch the turtles and terrapins swimming about while listening to the huge pileated woodpeckers call from the trees (which is really weird sounding in case you were wondering – their calls are crazy.) or watch the rabbits, deer and squirrels scamper about and graze at dusk.
ALL THOSE YEARS I thought I was a city girl because I love music, art, fashion and ridiculously tall shoes and the solitude that anonymity brings. I thought those were things I could only have if I lived in the heart of it all. Turns out I was wrong.
I’m a country girl at heart. I enjoy country living.
(sans the cowboy boots and “new country” music. noooooo thank you.)
I STILL LOVE my music, art, and ridiculous shoes and I can still love those things living in the country. And I’m more than okay with being the small town weirdo (although I prefer the term adorably eccentric) because people actually like me once they get to know me, even with my eccentricities and crazy but totally badass shoes.
BUT I AM HAPPIEST when I have trees surrounding me; when I can see all the stars at night and the Milky Way too; when I can stand naked in the woods with nothing but my boots on if I damn well please and there’s no one there to judge me or stop me (except Google – our prying eyes in the sky. Thanks, Big Brother…enjoy the show.); when I can connect with nature and its beauty and its freedom and its gentle quiet.
That is where my heart is.
That is where I’m home.
WOULD I LIVE IN THE CITY AGAIN? I would if I needed to…if my imaginary husband decided to make a career change to pursue his dream and that dream happened to be in the city I would move in a heartbeat because that’s what love is…but I would leave with the knowledge that when it was time to recharge and reconnect with myself and the world and real life, not the plastic life of the urban jungle, I would know how to do it: a visit with the trees and the wind and the bullfrogs and the katydids.
WHERE IS YOUR HEART? Where is your home? What is that something that’s missing from your life? Have you found it yet? Are you still searching? Share your story in the comments section below if you’re so inclined.
Kisses & Chaos,
Alli Woods Frederick