Got my horse. Got my dog. Don’t need no cowboy. Or gaucho. I can catch my own damn fish, thank you very much.
Bob leaves me for a week. Horseback, working on a pack trip. Ouch. Isn’t that what we do, together? He temporarily forgets we are a team. I don’t. He figures I’ll be fine. Of course I will. But how independent do you want me to be? I think about wishing to soften with age, not get tougher. I don’t want a heart like rawhide to match my weathered skin.
Before leaving he says he’s going to “take care of me.” He forgets, and runs out of time. He throws four beers in a bag on the table and tells me to give them to Alcides and see if he’ll catch me some fish.
Guess what. I drank the beers and caught my own fish.
I have taken off my wedding band and yet I still feel it there after ten years. I’m mad. Chances are I’ll forgive him. He’s a good guy. But I’m a woman. And every once in a while, I need to be reminded that I’m a good one, too. He’s not big on saying such things. I tell him it is time he learned. I’ll let you know how he does.
~ ~ ~
So I’m thinking. About life. Mine. Ginny’s. Women. Women willing to live life. Really live. Not half way, part way, or sort of. It’s yes or no. It’s life with gusto. It’s having, well, if you’ll excuse the crude expression, just a little bit of balls. Not too much of course. Remember, I don’t want to be tough. I still want to be tender. At just the right times. I want to feel. And I want to be willing to feel. To get out there and do, not just stay home and wish. Take risks. You know what I always say. Leap and the net appears. Usually. Because sometimes it doesn’t. But landing on the ground isn’t all bad either.
No whining aloud. Stop complaining. If you want change, change. It’s up to you. Do it. Or don’t, but don’t come crying to me if you haven’t even tried.
What do you have, and what can you do with it? Look at Ginny. She wants her life, and thus this book, to be an inspiration to others. She has already been an inspiration to me. Little things like living with MS barely slow her down. Maybe her body, but trust me, not that mind.
I’m not going to judge you. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. This is what matters: What did you do to get here? And where are you going from here? Everyone has their story. This is mine. And I’m working on Ginny’s. What, my friend, is yours?
~ ~ ~
My thoughts are drifting to e-mails I need to check, arrangements that need to be made for our return trip. Two more weeks. Damn. I’m not ready to leave. You knew I would not be. But I’m not leaving yet.
Now is the challenge to remain Here and Now. Now is when my mind starts moving ahead of my body. My body is here. I must contain my mind. Remain present. Keep my thoughts where my body is. Live it. Feel it. Smell, taste, touch it. Dive in, roll around, and rub it on. Otherwise, I risk wasting the next two weeks, waiting for the future to happen, rather than enjoying this incredible place and time. And what a time it is.
~ ~ ~
By day, the mountains turn to gold. Flaxen hillsides, flaming trees, yellow leaves caught in the wind. “Lluvia de oro” as leaves fall like raindrops of gold. Morning frost burnishes the broad grasses that grow by the little creek, as we jump from slick stone to slick stone, crossing to lead our horses in from pasture. Crisp light casts long, sharp shadows mid-day. The river a steel ribbon wrapped about this land on days when the sky hangs low and heavy. On those days, the grease bush smells like burning sage when we brush against with wet jeans and the bright red hips of wild rose stand out shockingly as Christmas ornaments on a Christmas tree. Layers of wool and down and the fireplace a welcome relief as we sit before a big blaze at night and talk about our day, today, everyday. Not tomorrow. We’ll discuss that after we wake in the morning, build another fire, have our matέ, and wait for the sun to hit this house.
~ ~ ~
We leave at lowering light, shadows stretching wide to absorb the valley withering pale, as sand would do in the wake of a swelling wave. I am mesmerized by the motion. Swirling sands around the horses heels, diffused light, filtered through dust so thick at times you cannot see the silhouette of the horse’s feet. Constant motion of grey foot, brown sand, golden light, blending into a moving cloud, alive and changing, silent by the wind. Look up or I will miss it. For at some point, the clouds give their last encore of scarlet promise, reflecting back the same first light of morning. Then they fade, shades of grey and the earth and sky blend into black.
Last night another ride home in the dark. One more time. Riding back from Buta Mallin. Bob leads Rolo the mule. Our horses stride side by side, faster now that they are nearly home. In the middle of a roughed out road we are unable to see, only the change of light where the mountain ends and sky begins told by the subtle variation of blackness and stunning sprinkle of stars. We are talking, softly as there is little sound while the horses step out on this sandy portion of long ride home. And there is nothing, no one, no other sound otherwise around us.
Blackness enveloping, still and clear, the stars reflecting on the river below us. The final switchback, giving in completely, the closest I hope to be to blind, as my mare suddenly turns left and begins the final decent and I am surprised to be this far already. I am absorbed in the darkness. I am complete and meaningless, a part yet unimportant all at the same time, at the moment, this very moment, when all I hear is the rush of the river below and the slap of the horses’ steel shoes on the rocky ground. There is nothing else to hear. There is only to feel.
Our last visit with Ginny. For this trip. It is not “goodbye” but rather “see you later.” You know that’s how I am.
And yes, of course I forgave Bob and slipped that ring back onto my finger where it belongs. That’s how I am too.
4 thoughts on “Indepen-dance”
you somehow put my thoughts into words, a toast to you and living, really living…
Sometimes a man forgets some things that a important to a woman .That has nothing to do with how he feels about you .I have made the same mistake before and now the wife I did it to is gone . Even though after years I found a new partner I will never forget the past and never make the same mistakes again .So forgive and remember a man and a woman sometimes think different .But love is always love even though it is not always said .
Once I had a wife from the wild outdoors and found out first hand just how hard it was to strike a balance between respecting her independence and doing the things for her that she wanted or needed done. Sometimes I did something that was rejected because I doubted her capability. Then I didn’t do something that she really wanted done because I was neglectful. It takes a lot of wisdom in a man to get that balance right most of the time. Marrying an urban housewife would have been so much easier. (And a lot less fun!) I’ve grown a lot from those experiences. But it’s hard as a man to see life from a female perspective, especially when one is living from moment to moment. The mistakes can stem from innocence or simply from the stereotypical male inability to multitask (and emotionally as well as intellectually). A man can love his wife way too deeply to make these mistakes deliberately, and yet he gets caught out. Men are weak too, not that they enjoy admitting it.
“Got my horse. Got my dog. Don’t need no cowboy. Or gaucho. I can catch my own damn fish, thank you very much.”— well said & absolutely! Reminds me of something straight from an Ani D song :)