After we moved to the farm when I was ten, I felt like my world collapsed inward.
No more going to school - now school was held at the kitchen table, with #2 pencils and textbooks from Alpha & Omega and A Beka. No more piano lessons from the nice lady in the trailer house - now I walked up the road to take piano lessons from the neighbor girl. No more spending the afternoons with friends or going to sleep-over. Now there were diapers to change, diapers to wash. Sticky toddler hands to wipe and cherries to can. Chickens to feed and goats to milk. Zucchini and pole beans to weed and water.
We were only 23 miles from Portland, 4.5 miles from the grocery store, but it seemed to me that we might as well have existed in our own universe.
And then: my father got a job working as a building engineer in downtown Portland. He left before dawn and returned in the early evening, upon which he would change his clothes and head back outside to work in the barn, or add another section of fence, or chop branches for the wood pile.
One Saturday morning, he announced that he was going into his office for a few hours.
"Can I go?" I asked.
He studied me for a moment. "Well," he said, finally. "I suppose you might like to see a bit of Portland."