Romanticizing the farm

This past summer I found myself at yet another Maine wedding, sitting at a long, family-style farm table set up in a field with the sun setting behind the quintessentially weather-worn barn. Farm weddings are all the rage this year. And rightfully so—the views are stunning and the landscape transforms you back to a time when things were simple and love conquered all.

A gaggle of young women who had come to Maine from larger, busier cities for the weekend collectively basked in the quaintness of every detail of the property, from the patched fences to the mysterious etchings on the barn walls. They wished out loud that they could grow their own food, raise free-range kids with open fields as their playground and spend their days working side by side with a partner who wasn’t constantly staring at a smartphone. One girl admitted to wanting to find a good guy already, so she could quit her job, buy a dozen chickens and move out to a farm to start a happy family. Everyone else at the table nodded in unison.

And I couldn’t agree more. If I could live at that farm, with that perfectly imperfect fence, the manicured lawn and the impractical, but Instagram-friendly tractor, I would.

Unfortunately, we weren’t actually at a farm. Frankly, it was a day spa and occasional wedding venue.

As a girl who grew up in Aroostook County and worked on a farm during the summers, weekends and during our month-long harvest break, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of anything that resembled a real farm – like the persistent smell of manure that clings to your clothes for hours, the yard filled with machinery and replacement parts for farm equipment, the obnoxious sound of animals.

Oh, and the barn that doesn’t have air conditioning.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with getting caught up in the romance and the nostalgia of a weekend getaway, but a strong dose of reality can remind us that we actually have it pretty good.

I rolled my eyes and ordered another shot while listening to this group of women fantasize about being part of the perfect organic farming couple—until I realized that I’ve created equally nonsensical myths about my own future. I dream about traveling the world with a handsome husband and three well-behaved, bookwormish children. I’ve imagined it for so long it’s practically a reality, except for the relationship, the traveling and the kids.

It reminded me of the one simple truth about relationships, regardless of whether you farm as a couple, you travel, you live in a suburban Maine town or you live in a New York City apartment: Relationships are hard. Like, really hard.

There is no way to know if you’re doing it right and even if you are, self-doubt can sometimes feel overwhelming. So maybe it’s important to maintain that fantasy of farming and family and travel. It’s the balance of appreciating reality and aspiring to the fantastical that keeps life interesting.

Emily Straubel is a writer and ceramic artist living in Portland. Writing about design and technology by day, and the unpredictable world of love and dating by night, her work is driven by curiosity and FOMO.

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