It’s been raining hard the past couple of days… good for our crops… kinda bad for me. We can’t go back (yet) to the city.
The original plan was for me and Tuz to stay in our tiny city pad with all the conveniences of modern living. I have strong wifi there, Tuz and I can watch movies on the big screen, we can have food delivered or even go out late at night to eat at my favorite food place in the city, there’s a fridge at home, a microwave, a washing machine and of course an air conditioner (although the temperature here at the farm is way cooler). Then that day after Mahal made LBC deliveries for Mushroom Chili Paste and Mushroom Langka Jam orders and came home, he waited for me to wake up. I was actually expecting him to be gone already by the time I wake up so it’d be easier for me to not miss him. But he couldn’t leave yet. He said he was already missing us so much. So we spent time just talking… and hugging… and kissing… an hour passed… two… three… I was on the brink of tears knowing that he needed to go back to the farm soon since the plants have been all alone with no one to take care of them for 5 whole days already at that time.
Then Mahal said: “Sama ka na!” (Come with me!)
My weak heart couldn’t stand seeing him go without me and Tuz so in a flash, I packed my stuff and Tuz’s necessities and went with him back to the farm. There went my resolve to stay in the city down the drain. ❤
I thought we would just stay here for a day or two, just enough time to hire a day helper, harvest mushrooms and jackfruit (coz there were also a ton of Mushroom Chili Paste and Mushroom Langka Jam orders we had to cook and prepare back home). It’s been 4 days going 5. And it’s been raining since we got here that all our crops are thriving (even if some have been blown away by the occasional strong winds) and for that we are thankful. It’s been raining so hard that the roads got so muddy our car can’t even pass lest we risk getting stuck in the mud. It’s been raining so hard that I’d wake up early in the evening fearing for my life coz it felt like the roof will be torn off and this old farmhouse will be blown to pieces. Then just a little while ago, I had a Skype client meeting when all of a sudden a huge grasshopper jumped onto my face, I freaked out!
It’s no wonder I can’t seem to find my groove to stay here long. I miss my house in Alabang so much. I miss living in a nice house. I miss my home office. I miss my cozy living room. I miss my big bedroom with a full entertainment system. I miss my lanai and zen backyard. I miss my nice beach-themed balcony. My house back in Manila is not the prettiest but it was my first baby and my first dream home from my own hard work which I’ve toiled over for ten years to get my mortgage fully paid. And for me, it’s the prettiest and most comfy house I’ve ever lived in (I lived in so many places all throughout the years since childhood).
Then I had to up and leave and have it rented out to foreign tenants (which I’m grateful for by the way) to be with Mahal here in the mountains.
You can say that until now, I am still adjusting. It’s been a year since we left my cozy nice big house in Alabang and moved here in Mindanao and I’m still adjusting. Mahal often tells me it won’t always be like this. We’re just starting so it’s normal to experience the downside of things. Things will get better, when the farm biz picks up, he promised.
Don’t get me wrong. Living a farm life is a dream come true. I love the fresh air, the view of the sunrise from our bedroom window every morning, the fresh produce, the wonderful harvests and healthy foods we’re eating, the fact that my savings are growing instead of dwindling because of fewer expenses but I don’t like where we live. His parents’ old farmhouse is creaky, freaky, old, and dirty. I’ve only managed to somehow make his parents’ old bedroom livable by redecorating it (see my redecoration here: Jen by Design). But the rest of the house is just overwhelmingly chaotic and messy.
I am thinking of redecorating the living area outside the bedroom to help calm my nerves. I cope better with changes when I see beautiful things around me. But for the most part, I’ve been playing tug-o-war in my head whether to have it fully renovated or redecorated and furnished or to build a brand new home with my own money. But I want to be wise and realistic too (enters the Sex and the City scene in my head where Miranda tells Carrie to be wise about her relationship with Big). I’ve already spent my savings building the mushroom growing house for our farm biz. I don’t want the rest of my savings to be spent building another home for us.
We are not married (yet — my annulment from my ex is taking sooo long). The land is his parents’. I don’t know what the future will hold as I’ve already been jaded in the past. So it’s either I stop doing this. Or I adjust and be flexible enough to be able to live a happy and content life here and be patient with Mahal and his farming activities until he can save enough money to build us a brand new home, even just a tiny but modern one.
I really am in limbo.
I hate it that I am awake and alone with Tuz all night til morning for online work where my signal is not as good as compared to when I am at home. (I’ve been on US Time Zone for ten years now and Tuz apparently inherited this body clock from me.) If I want to go poop, I will have to go down from the farmhouse, bring a flashlight, fetch water and carry a pail of it all the way to the uncivilized toilet we have here and be subjected to flying insects while pooping. I’ve been using OFF LOTION 24/7 just to prevent myself from having any more insect bites. When my wifi signal gets wonky, I go down again, bring a flashlight, walk all the way to the shack where my phone is stationed to restart the connection. While walking there, I see more flying insects, toads and the occasional “wakwak” flying by (or maybe it’s just my imagination).
Being out here with nature, though beneficial in some respects, is also stressing me out so much. It’s probably the city girl in me and my being a homebody. Again, I miss my house… my all-in-one beach/party/cozy home. :’-(
I’ve just had my period (hurray, I’m not pregnant!) so I am aware that my hormones are in haywire and are also affecting my thoughts, emotions, and judgment at the moment.
It didn’t help that I googled “how to cope with city life to farm life” and got numerous search results. When I started reading, that’s when I cried big time.
I’m still crying now as I write this post. It’s cathartic. It helps purge these feelings of nostalgia I have about my past so I can appreciate more the blessings of the present and future.
So… I just want to let it out. I have no one else to blame but me. I chose to live this life and it’s my responsibility to find my own joy and strength in it. Grit is the key. I want to know where this journey is going to take me… us… our family. Hopefully, I get to find out soon. Before I go crazy.
Thanks for reading.
I resonated with this part of the article I was reading and crying about. It’s just so me:
When I took a chance and moved to this farm, I understood full well that I was trading autonomy and privacy for cramped quarters, extra responsibilities, and bills from places like the farm insurance bureau. It hardly surprised me that the first few months strained my relationship with Henry, not to mention my professional life and our finances. Nor was I surprised when hints of progress—we adopted two puppies, we hosted a successful Christmas party—always seemed to be followed by more small crises. The oven broke. The refrigerator broke. The puppies fought with each other, and, through agony and tears, I had to give one of them away. It was as if the farm were a needy child, a dependent that was constantly tugging at my skirt. But though there were days when I scanned the classified ads for houses back in town, I told myself to stick it out. The decision to try out this lifestyle was my own, and I owed it to myself to see where it would take me.
Almost a year later, I wish I could say unequivocally that my risk paid off. I wish I could say that the house didn’t feel so small after all, that the winter was mild, that Henry never resents getting up before dawn to feed the animals (which today include two horses, two geese, a pig, a cat, and a now adolescent dog) and I never resent relinquishing my office at 8 P.M. for his youngest son to go to bed (which means turning off the ringer of my private phone line, a gesture that feels like the ultimate act of self-created isolation).
But I can’t say that. Risks don’t always present you with results that can be read like test scores. We tend to think of a risk as something that will either completely succeed or completely fail. But sometimes the outcome of the risk takes the form not of a final verdict but of a pendulum that shifts daily, maybe even hourly. Some days, when the cloud formations are particularly stunning and the FedEx truck brings me new shoes and Henry and I spend the evening sipping wine in the stock tank that doubles as a wading pool, I know I was right to move to this farm with him. Other days, when it’s 30 below zero and I have to go out to the barn every hour to break the water that’s frozen in the animals’ troughs and I miss four business calls because I forgot to turn the ringer back on, I can feel regret coming on like a flu. But like a flu, the doubts pass just as mysteriously as the fleeting assurances. Moving here was no more wrong than it was right. It is simply what I did. And so I live inside my risk, with good days and bad, which is pretty much how everyone lives.
In the end, there’s strength to be gained from an ambiguous outcome. It gives you more to think about. It gives you some mistakes over here, some triumphs over there, some setbacks to keep you humble, some strides you didn’t think you were capable of. One thing I’ve learned is that when you take responsibility for the choice you’ve made, when the person you’ve kept up at night is yourself, even the worst outcome won’t make a victim out of you. You’re only a victim when you’re reducing your risk to a zero-sum game, when you’re not respecting its subtleties and hidden corners, its remarkable ability to restore your faith just moments after it has ripped out your heart and tossed it into a cornfield. There are people who still think I’m crazy for trying to juggle my writing career with activities like cleaning out a pigpen and playing junior Yahtzee with someone else’s child. Oftentimes, I’m one of those people. But I also know that I’ve learned so much more from this than I would have if everything had gone smoothly. I’ve learned that there’s a middle ground between success and failure. It’s called real life. And that’s always worth taking a chance on.