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eight months ago, i left the farm
by margaret anderson

eight months ago, i left the farm and went to iowa city to the university. so much has happened since then; i have met many new people, plain people and sophisticated ones, some just out of high school like myself, and others who have been matured by years in the service, or struggles to pay their way in school. at first, i felt it would be hard, not having too much money but i soon found out that i was a millionaire in comparison to some that i met.

money has been one of my best teachers so far in this search for 'higher education'. i can't exactly say that money has been the teacher: the things one needs money for, and not having it to do the things one wants to do - like going to chicago or taking a long trip during easter vacation. or just buying lots of records as i'd like to do, or buying a typewriter i could put to such good use, even doing things like going to good shows - the best ones always manage to come to town just when you are broke. but as i have said, i reconcile myself when the thought of others far worse off than i am.

when i left the farm that warm september day, i was near tears; it wasn't the anticipation of homesickness, at least i don't think so. i wasn't really homesick until the following spring. i guess the reason i was so near crying was the thought of leaving mom and dad home alone. that sounds silly i guess, but if you had had six kids; at least one of them home at some time or another, things would be a lot different when the last one left. i, as the 'baby' realized that i would be missed - i knew that my mother would miss me, because i had taken over most of the housework - cleaning and some of the cooking, and had at times helped with chores and also had mowed the lawn for the last four years. these don't sound like much but they add up to a lot of work for a mother who is already overworked and worried about her three youngest children and a nervous, dissipated husband. i think i felt extremely guilty because i knew i had often shirked my jobs, and passed them off and let her do them., this is one of my father's little traits that disgust me so much and it disgusts me as much when i see it in myself.

also, when i left home, i left behind a nice boy - all of 26 years of age. he seemed to me very knowing, he said he loved me, which flattered my ego, making me think i loved him. altho this last statement is not exactly true. i always had the feeling that i was better than he, i don't know exactly why. as i think about it now, i think how silly it all was. i think i've acquired some thing which helps me to understand a man a little better now. maybe not understanding, but just getting along with them. that is more frankness, the courage to speak out what's on my mind concerning him. i'm not as afraid of what they'll say as i used to be. when i was in high school, i seldom dated anyone and when all your girlfriends are dating, you begin to wonder what's wrong with yourself. it gives one a sort of inferiority complex when you have that all around you. that's why jim appealed to me that summer - he dimmed that complex, and in a way i guess he helped me to get rid of it. one thing i know now is that i could never start going with jim any more - his seriousness in life, which is quite all right, would drive me crazy. it's wrong to compare him to fellows i've met at school, and the situation is also very different, but the guys i've met in the last eight months have been gay and able to get out and have a good time - they had their serious side too, but it was different. if they were worried about the future, sometimes it was made into a joke, maybe a little bitter but not allowed to get the best of them.

i have had, what some people might say a fair sample of college, and should know if it is the thing for me, if it can give me what i want. but at this time, i am further from a decision than i ever was. i am more puzzled as to what i really want out of college, out of life. i have been told repeatedly that it is foolish for me to worry - college is the place to be if you don't know what you want. ok, so i am in college, spending upwards of $600 for the year, while some of my friends are out earning their own way. there too i have been reassured, that they are leading their own lives, forget about them - it's your life and not to be guided by them. don't worry about the money that is being spent to put you thru school - if it were too much effort for your parents, they could withdraw that help. but am i a good investment ? when i don't do my work, and get bad grades ( or even when i do work like a demon and still do the same thing ) i feel guilty and ashamed. then i remember the words that are so controversial - 'it isn't the grades that matter, it's what you're actually learning'.

another thing that bothers me sometime is the thought of getting married - i'm not so sure that i wouldn't want to marry someone any day, as to go on to finish school. but as i think about it i know i won't marry for quite a few years. why ? because i know i am not mature enough to create the kind of home i want - for a husband and children. and as i look at the young people who mean the most to me - my sister and brother, their friends, i feel how silly, immature these thoughts of marriage are.

i think that these young people have a great deal of ambition. i know i shall never be fired with whatever it is that has spurred them on, and i stand in awe and respect of them. i know they're not perfect by any means, but there is something about them that serves as a sort of guiding light for me. i guess the two that have provided the strongest examples are my sister and , oddly enough, the neighbor boy. i could not begin to mention all the things my sister has influenced me in : it could go on forever. the neighbor boy ? he's 20 now, and holds a big place in my heart. i can't remember when he didn't. when i was in 8th grade, i had an autograph book, and i the place for the signature of "my hero", he put his. he was a sophomore, and to me he was wonderful. i could hardly wait for the day when i could be in the assembly too and catch glimpses of him more often. whenever he talked to me, my tongue twisted in knots, i blushed and could never utter a word. you would think by now that i would have outgrown this silly fault but i haven't, tho it's not quite as bad.

one winter, i think it was when i was a sophomore, maury helped us chore because dad had injured himself i some way. sometimes i would go out to the barnyard and sit around while maury pitched the silage out to the cattle, climbing up into the silo with him. i don't know if i made a pest of myself or not: i doubt if i did because he probably considered me as just a silly little kid. altho i wonder. about this same winter, one night he drove dad and i up town. when we got home, he carried the groceries into the house and went into the living room to read - or something, i don't remember what he did. he picked up a little worn volume of poetry and asked me if i liked poetry. of course i did, and we sat down across from each other at the dining room table. he asked me to read something - i don't even remember what it was, but when i finished, he said, " you felt silly reading that outloud, didn't you ? ". as i remember, i mumbled an embarrassed 'uh-huh', tho now, i wonder what he meant, behind those words.

i think one of the reasons i always was so shy with him was the way he seemed to know what you were thinking or felt like. on this particular night, i had been upset and nearly crying on the way home from town. he seemed to know this and that was probably the reason for what he did when we got home. he asked me if " i'd like to walk part way home with him - we live about an eighth of a mile apart with a dredged ditch between. the bridge over the ditch has been a traditional meeting and parting place for our two families, so it was not too unusual for us to walk there together. at this spot, on a sparkling moonlight and snow winter night, this idol of my heart kissed me. he was the first boy to ever kiss me, and at that time i thought a kiss meant a great deal. i don't know what it meant to him, but to me it signified much. i went home that night and thought of nothing but him - there was never a happier girl as on that sunday morning. but things like that never last, and this elation was shot from under me that afternoon when maury came into the house at chore time, and asking where i was, came upstairs. he said, i think now with no little bit of difficulty, that he was sorry about what happened last night and would i just forget about it ? oh yes, also not to mention it to any of my friends. i smiled and said sure, that's all right. he said thanks, turned and went out to do chores. i cried my heart out that night and have shed many more tears since then. i don't know if this adoration of maury is just a crush that i haven't been able to shake off: something that would probably die if i knew him really well. i think it is something that only time will tell.

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