It’s January 16, 2019. I’m sitting beside my window looking out at the highway overpass above the railroad tracks in the Northwest Industrial District of Portland, Oregon. This place is as far from Crazy Wife Farm as I could be. I needed the distance to give me perspective. It’s been ten years since my husband Chet died.
In 1976, I found the man who was a perfect fit for me and we were together for 32 years. We met in the music business, our careers shifted when the Internet was born, we made money and bought the farm. Agriculture became cool and I became passionate about connecting with Nature on our dead-end gravel road in Western Massachusetts. It would have been a great love story, if not for the fact that Chet and I fell in love with different things; something I didn’t see until he invited his mistress to the farm to say goodbye to him before he succumbed to cancer.
It was the trauma of his illness and death, combined with the mystery of his affair, that unraveled me for years after he was gone. I was obsessed with an unsolvable puzzle. My memoir is the story of how I learned to cope with not knowing. For ten years I have been excavating my memories, brushing dust off the details, reconstructing the facts, haranguing the secrets that ruined my dreams. But to be at peace with myself, I have to accept the uncertainty.
If these events had transpired when we were younger, I might have given up on discovering the truth of my past and moved on to a new man in another marriage. But I was a 54-year-old farmer when Chet died, and all I wanted to do was farm. I didn’t see age creeping up on me until seven years after his death, seven years of farming alone on the edge of a wild forest with my dog. That was my love affair.
Now I’m 64 and single in the city. With perfect hindsight I see how I got here, the choices I made, and how those choices flowed one into another to become my life. I see my ambition, my obsessions and my mistakes, and hard as they were to live through, I have gratitude for all of them, because they were the path to this moment, and I have arrived — unbroken, undaunted, and free. A new me blooms in the richness of my experience.
If you have ever been blindsided by the events of your life, you are not alone. If you have ever fallen in love with the impractical, been told that your dreams were ridiculous, or discovered yourself to be on the far side of reason, I invite you to join me in lust for the future. Passion is risky business. We put our sanity on the line when we love. But it is our capacity for passion that gives us potential. And that’s what makes the future better than the past. We farm the future with everything we’ve gained from history. Then we bloom and begin again.