I don't live in a "farm town" by any means, but right in my own community there is a great little place called Bowers Farm. Year round it is full of activities- corn mazes, petting zoo, sledding hill. It's a great place to take kids and let off some steam.
When I was in middle school, Bowers started hosting "Barn Dances". All of the local middle school kids were invited to attend. If my memory serves me right, they were monthly. It would be about 50 preteens packed into a barn, with a dj and a concession stand. What more could you want at that age?
My friends and I took barn dances VERY seriously. On the day of a barn dance, my group of friends would meet at one of our houses (we had a rotation schedule). We'd change out of our Catholic school unifroms, chow down on pizza, and start getting ready. There was always Nsync playing loudly in the background, and a bathroom full of hair ties, snap bracelets, Baby G watches, and glitter eye shadow. We helped each other get ready and giggled through all of it. Then a parent- sometimes two, depending on how many of us were going that night, would drop us off at Bowers Farm. We'd meet up with our cool public school friends and dare each other to ask some guy to dance. Within our group we each had a buddy or two that we'd stick with the whole night- none of us were ever alone, even if we felt like it in our preteen angst.
Sometimes, we even tried to coreograph a dance before we went to the barn, thinking it'd be so cool if that song played and we broke out into dance. I can't remember a single time we were successful at this....although I do recall performing it for all of my sisters friends at her 16th birthday party in our basement. I'm positive they were jealous of us.
The first time I ever slow danced with a boy was at a Barn Dance. His name was Kyle and I thought he was the cutest boy in the entire world. Besides Justin Timberlake, of course! I remember how terrified I was to ask him to dance. What if he said no- in front of EVERYONE! So instead, my friends told him to ask me. And he did! I have a clear visual of this happening. He tapped me on the shoulder and sort of shrugged while he asked me. We awkwardly slow danced, which basically just meant sort of swaying back and forth and not speaking. But in my mind, it was magical. I have no idea what Kyle is up to now, I can't even remember his last name or really what he looked like (besides that he was signficantly shorter than me), but I will always remember that moment.
When the dance was over and we'd have our heart broken by some jerky 8th grader, we piled into a car and headed to the hosts house. Parents always had snacks ready for us, and we would quickly wipe off the glitter eye shadow and change into our pj's. With our sleeping bags laid out on the floor, we would put a movie on and pretend to be watching it and falling fast asleep, when actually we were whispering and playing truth or dare or cheering up whoever had been hurt the most that night.
Those nights were beautiful for us. We laughed, we cried, we bonded, we grew up a little. We taught each other things and made each other braver. You know that quote in the movie "Stand by Me" that says... I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone? That's exactly how I feel. Friends have come and gone, but there have never been anyone as great as my middle school pack. Kelly, Danielle, Rosalyn, Kim, Katie, Aimee, Christine, Clarissa and Larissa. My pals.