Walk Don't Run 6/23/15

By: Nikki McKim
Last weekend I hit my old stomping grounds to attend the 160th Anniversary of Miles Ranch. I was looking forward to seeing the renovations that the Bruxellas family has made to the old farm estate and to be exploring an area of Richardson County that I love so much.
As I drove over I took the route that I’ve taken my entire life down to the ranch. The old country road with beautiful views and the old Cooper farmhouse where I spent much of my youth always makes my stress melt away. I rolled down the windows, turned down the radio and just took it all in. I breathed deeply and smiled as I drove west.
When I was a kid we always spent time down at the river near Miles Ranch. We passed that old familiar sign hundreds of times to camp, fish and swim. It’s one of my favorite places in the county, if not my favorite. It had been years since I was down this old road and my heart sank at how unfamiliar my surroundings now were. Trees have been cleared out in areas, leaving stunning views to the south. In other areas weeds and trees were overgrown making it look like this part of the world had been left abandoned.
It reminded me of a trip I took to Texas almost exactly 13 years ago. It was the first time Brian and I had gone to Texas together. On our way to Killeen to meet our first niece, I begged Brian to swing through Belton. It was where my grandparents had lived for years and I wanted to show Brian where I had spent countless summers and Christmases. As we pulled into the area that I vividly remember to this day, I was suddenly lost. Gone was the A frame house that signaled how close we were to our grandparents home. Trees had overgrown, homes had been abandoned or torn down and the pool that brought my sister and I so much joy was overgrown and chained up. It had all changed so quickly. In a matter of nine years-nothing was the same. It was absolutely heart crushing for me. Everything I had been so excited to return too was gone or different. It was like losing my grandfather all over again. I would never have the chance to show Brian a place that held some of my greatest memories.
Saturday as I got closer to my destination I was a bundle of nerves. I knew I’d be devastated if I rounded the corner and didn’t see the familiar “Miles Ranch” sign. But it was there and it instantly brought me comfort. I walked the grounds envious of this family who had done something that I dreamed of as a kid. I wanted to live on this beautiful piece of land and make-over this gorgeous home. I couldn’t have done half as good of a job as the Bruxellas have done. They have taken a beautiful and historic part of Richardson County and brought it back to life. I never thought I would see the day, I had anticipated that the house would eventually cave in on its self and another piece of my childhood would disappear. (Thank you Paulo and Vanji for working so hard to preserve such a beautiful home.)
As I drove home tears streamed down my face. I blame the lack of sleep and being sick all week but most of it was how emotional I was seeing how things have changed. I almost felt betrayed by the landscape of my youth. Perhaps I was angry that it had the nerve to change on me. How dare nothing stay the same. The longer I drove, the more I realized that things have to change because that is life. Nothing can stay the same as it was in our youth. Things are constantly changing, sometimes it’s unfair, but most of the time it’s for the good. I am not a fan of change, I want Alex to stay little, I want the lines of my head disappear, I want that old road to Miles Ranch to be bright and full of life again and I want that old Belton, Texas neighborhood to look exactly how it did when I was seven years old. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I just want everything to stop changing. If that isn’t possible; I wish it would at least slow down and stop changing so quickly.
It makes me sad that I won’t be able to take Alex to many of the places that gave me such joy as a child. I always imagined taking my children back to Belton to see how magical it was, or drop them off for their first day of school at Dawson-Verdon. But, those are my memories and hopefully the new places we find along this ever changing path will bring him the same joy I felt and feel now when I think of them. Perhaps he will think of days out at my Grandma and Grandpa Harmon’s house flying a kite and the gorgeous southern view. Maybe he will think of my mom’s house in Auburn where he can run wild with cats, chickens and horses. Or he will think of his papa’s cabin near Rulo where we catch dozens of tiny fish off of a small dock on the pond. His memories will be different than mine as mine were from my parents. We want to give our children the same love of certain places and the memories that mean so much to us but they need to make their own. I may not like how everything changes, but that’s life. As long as we have a breath in our body we will move forward. As a civilization, things will always change and I guess that is what life’s all about. But how I’d give anything to let him see these places through my eyes so he would know just how magical they once were.