• Cara Van Leuven

With a Heavy Heart

The contrast of country living compared to our former loft life on Washington Avenue is biting. I would be remiss not to mention the violence that has recently occurred on our old street – the random murder for some stupid car just blocks from our former home, the bullets flying in my old haunts and couches being set ablaze directly in front of our old building.

It saddens me greatly, and there is a part of me that carries some guilt having left. I feel like I chickened out. I abandoned the part of St. Louis that embraced me most and helped me feel like I belonged.

I called St. Louis city my home for nine years. The first four were not fun – I didn’t realize I bought a home in the ghetto. I didn’t realize how cliquish the town is, and having moved from Albuquerque, it seemed I frightened people. It wasn’t until a loft became available in the last of the unrehabbed buildings on Washington that I found my footing.

I made friends. I met Tom. I began to paint. I gave guided tours to visitors on a horse-drawn carriage. I learned the streets like an overly read book. It was my salvation.

Did things get worse, or did I turn a blind eye for years? I’m really not sure, but I know this – the farmhouse is my new salvation. It’s a lot of work, but it’s magical too. Things we were unable to do in the loft are treasured now. We nap in the hammocks by the pond soaking in the sunlight and fresh air. Houseplants move outdoors. Landscaping becomes a robust feat and enhances the natural beauty of the homestead.

Most importantly we are able to celebrate friendships. We’ve had so many visitors; occasionally people we don’t even know stop by. The house is comforting, and friends naturally feel embraced. I feared loneliness; it’s been anything but.

I can’t help to have a heavy heart when I think back to the days of loft dwelling and my beloved Washington Ave., but I have a new home I cherish. Farm living at its best.