Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

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Before Fleet Farm was cool.

For this to work, one must agree that Fleet Farm is cool now, and I do. But that wasn’t always the case. In its early days, and mine, Fleet Farm was not the megastore that it is today. It was small. Crowded. Dark. Clothes, the few they had, were not displayed, but crammed closet style. They weren’t bought ironically. No hipsters sported Carhart – did we even have hipsters? Fleet Farm looked more like an enclosed garage sale, and people went as far as changing tags on items, as if it were.

Visiting from France, my husband loves Fleet Farm. We have spent hours walking through the aisles. Fishing rods and overalls. Candy. Space to browse. And people ARE browsing. It is a real store.

Perhaps everything looks different from a distance. Oh, things change for sure, but so do our perspectives. I hope they change.

When I was in high school, my mom bought a pair of painter’s pants for me from that very uncool Fleet Farm. Today, most of my pants are “painter’s pants” – in one way or another. I wish I could say I knew Fleet Farm was cool then, but I don’t think I did. I had to learn a lot of things. Still do – by trying to see them. With new eyes. I paint my grandfather, wearing overalls he no doubt bought at that very uncool Fleet Farm. I paint with respect, and an apology for not seeing it, him, sooner. I paint the cows that he raised, the cows that the unpopular kids in FFA (Future Farmers of America) too raised in their fields that no one visited.

I browse this world with new eyes. A new heart. Not to be cool, but to recognize that they are, and really, always were.