My sweet old Kentucky home

I'm busting out Kleenex tonight. Whenever I sit at my computer and it goes idle for a minute, the screen saver scrolls old pictures from my desktop. Flashes of us as newlyweds posing together on the patio, a snap of two dogs panting in front of 6-foot sunflowers, then shots of Brayden, at 6 months, naked on a picnic blanket next to the hayfields. Tears.

Next week Matthew and I will say goodbye to a little piece of our heart, our history, our first Kentucky home, as we are selling our farm a few miles away from here, in Petersburg.

It's been almost 15 years since I moved to Kentucky. That was way back when I was still dating a guy named Matthew, who I just couldn't bear to suffer in a long-distance relationship with any longer!
Brayden's first tractor ride, summer 2007
So I packed up what little I had and left South Bend, headed south over the Ohio River, my cd player blaring Toad the Wet Sprocket or some 90s groove, and landed in a tiny apartment in Covington. It wasn't the deep south - still about an hour or so from Kentucky's Lexington horse country and a couple hours from Cumberland, where the true hills and mountains and lakes dominate the landscape; but it felt worlds away from the flat corn-land views I had grown up around in northern Indiana.

The reflection of Cincinnati's skyline on the river, a stone's throw from the tree-covered hills of Northern Kentucky, was an awesome sight to me and I knew I was home.
It's weird for me now to think what "little" I had then, as a 23-year-old aspiring journalist with barely $300 in my bank account. Basically, I had a couple pieces of hand-me-down furniture, a full-sized mattress with a Wal-Mart bedspread and a handful of dollar store picture frames.

It wasn't until Matthew and I got married in late 2002, when we purchased a 55-acre farm with a two-bedroom farmhouse in Petersburg, that I really felt like I had "something." We lived the first several years of our marriage there, and despite being somewhat removed from the close proximity to the city, I loved it.

Brayden and our farm dog Kya, 2007
Matthew and I had full-time jobs, but we also tended to our little farm, planting small trees and flowers, a little garden by the garage, and we watched the deer, coyote and wild turkey out back on a regular basis. It was pretty cool to watch my "farmer" bail hay each spring and late summer (although I really didn't care for the deer ticks in his every crevice at the end of the day). We eventually got two dogs and then in another few years we had our first-born son, Brayden, all in that little white farmhouse with green shutters.

But once Brayden turned 1, I started to get antsy. I wanted him to grow up around other little kids, in a neighborhood where he could ride a bike and trick-or-treat on a sidewalk. Although it was a little heartbreaking to leave the farm, we found some renters who moved in and we bought a home in a nearby subdivision. We had more bedrooms than we knew what to do with (we soon figured out what to do with them, wink) and all the neighborhood kids we could dream of for Brayden to play with.

But boy I cried bittersweet tears leaving that first little house, thinking of all the memories (good and bad) that were made within those walls. I think of those nights on the patio looking at bright stars, (yes, before kids we could drink and watch stars!), all those newlywed fights in that tiny hallway leading up to the bedroom, ("NO, you cannot come home to a happy wife at 4 a.m. after drinking with your buddies at some bar!"), our first Christmas together under a real Douglas Fir (despite his allergy to pine and my crappy-gift giving of toothpaste or something), oh and that "fire in the basement" mishap, too (it's not a good idea to put a hot match into a garbage can, especially when your husband is a volunteer firefighter). What about all those little mice we battled with from November to March each year -- oh the sad conversations I had with them struggling in their glue traps!
Then, I think back to the January night my water broke in the living room -- our first baby was going to arrive here soon! I have such wonderful memories there of that precious boy, that stinker of a baby who had colic and reflux, who learned to talk, walk and laugh here at this farmhouse.
Since we still owned the property, we could of course come back (we really had only visited a few times), but it softened the blow of leaving just a bit.

Fast forward nearly six more years and another move to our current home, and the farmhouse memories come back again. But this time, it's really going to be goodbye.
I wonder why we have these emotions, these strong attachments to THINGS like a house or a piece of land with a bunch of grass and trees? It's strange that something so abstract can be so powerful! I'm a blubbering mess each time I drive by or see photos of us during our time there.
I think a home becomes a part of your heart because of the memories you make with the people you love -- they are your true heart!

So next week we will sign papers, we will hand over keys to a little white farmhouse, a dusty detached garage (with lots of field mice) a big blue barn and acres of beautiful land that we helped nurture the past 12 years. I will always keep memories of the farm in my heart. But I will take comfort in knowing that my true home, my heart, is with my husband and my four little people who are with me every day. Because THEY will always and forever be my sweet Kentucky home!


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