The Wildness in Me

Musings

I attended the Cody Rodeo last night. I even purchased a season pass, so color me committed. I ate overly salted popcorn, drank apricot beer and gabbed with my girlfriend from the ranch. She’s the wrangler there and would whistle with bursts of enthusiasm for the riders while watching raptly.

The sky’s brightness and the summer heat diminished and I begun to get chilled in my sleeveless white sundress. I watched the cowboys get flung from bulls and cowgirls turning a sharp corner on horses full of sinewy grace in barrel racing. I sometimes leaned back and hardly noted the action, instead just noted how I felt, which was charmed and at home, and other times I sat in wonder over the difficulty of roping a moving calf.

I myself started practicing roping a few months back, and it is no easy feat. I can only rope a calf if it is plastic and held fast in a hay bale, three feet in front of me and unmoving—which obviously helps if the calf is plastic. The idea that these riders can be swiftly moving atop a horse, swinging their rope, and catch a high-tailing calf is astounding and worth a whistle. If I could in fact whistle, which I cannot.

I had just wrapped up my first week at the new ranch, full of cooking up cheesecakes, biscuits, baked chicken, and cleaning cabins, learning to saddle and getting swept up in windstorms.

I felt as though I had hardly taken much of a breath as the night before last I stumbled up the barn steps and fell into a deep sleep at 6:30, not awaking again until 6:30 the next morning.

I was trying to keep track of all the newness, which had caused me to feel so breathless. Baking in a big old Western abode befitting a feature in Western Horseman. Riding horses up the side of a canyon while my nostrils inhaled an intoxicating amount of sage; I swayed with the horse and the sweet intensity of the smell and my surroundings. I heaved saddles on and hefted them off and felt that I belonged to the West and saddles and painting posts and sagebrush and that I always had.

And then when I had time to catch my breath my best friend told me she would go into labor soon. She is having twins and we texted back and forth in excitement. But then it started creeping up to me again. That feeling that I have tried to shake for months, but won’t go away. That my egg count is dwindling and motherhood is very far away from me.

I suddenly felt guilty about gallivanting up mountainsides on horseback and cruising around in a golf cart with a cow dog by my side with the wind making my hair look like Marv from Home Alone—because it is short again and the curls are as wild as my spirit. I felt like I had done something selfish somewhere along the line choosing to be so footloose and fancy-free. Had I chosen the wrong path, though it had felt like the right one?

Would choosing this kind of wildness prevent me from ever having something I had always wanted which was children.

I fear this kind of thing may not disturb men too greatly, or maybe even young women, because I don’t ever recall considering my egg count until my thirtieth birthday started nearing. And now I am somewhat obsessed with terms like egg counts and geriatric pregnancies—which for the record was the term for women who got pregnant after 35—adoption and egg freezing.

After many a meltdown as my thirtieth inched closer, and I masochistically read mommy articles and cried, I made a vow to myself to knock it the fuck off, and enjoy my present moments of ranching, making cheese, learning to fly fish and saddle horses, without thoughts of my egg supply or a geriatric pregnancy.

But all this rushed to the forefront of my mind again, while my bestie spoke excitedly of the impending birth of her daughters. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, not portraying jealousy over her joy, while she consoled me that my time would come. I even marched on and went to the rodeo anyway, despite a sudden and distinct empty feeling in my uterus.

I watched the cowboys and tried not to picture little cowboy kids in my mind. I did anyway. I stared at the ropers and came back to my egg count. I looked at the running baby calves and tried to surmise if it were possible that I could live without children.

Which is when I turned and confessed all this to my very new friend who was very kind and understanding as I ranted about my barters with God: I will give up any lofty career aspirations and settle down as a respectable banker if it means I get to have babies. I mean it, God. I will stop being wild. Errr, I will try really hard to stop being wild, but I can’t make promises once the babies come, because I want them to ride horses, camp under the open Wyoming sky and go on whale watching adventures on the coast.

For some reason just admitting to my barters about being a banker in exchange for babies, while she laughed and said she understood, caused all the egg count and swaddled babies that I might never hold, and ideas that I could possibly be undeserving of a baby to disappear into the Western sky.

I stuck my hand back into the too-salted popcorn box, popping handfuls into my mouth and washing it down with my can of damn fine beer. The sky was a deep blue, yet the mountainous outlines were black against the blue, like a very fetching bruise.

I let out my breath again and decided I’d be okay. This was nice. The young wrangler girl was nice. And the rodeo sure was nice.

As we walked past all the corrals of animals upon leaving, I dreamily took in all their beauty. The wildness of the horses and bulls and even the baby calves struck me and I told my friend, “I want them all!” To which she laughed again and nodded, like why not?

Maybe, just maybe there will be a way for me to have the wildness, the West and little cowboys of my own. If I have learned how to saddle, make fresh cheese from scratch after milking a cow, not take my instructor’s eye out when learning to cast a fly line and rope a plastic calf, then I suppose anything is possible. At least, that’s what the West would have a girl like me believe.

I am Not Offended by Pies

Musings

Not too long ago, I had an interesting experience while in line at Target. I was eyeing up the brightly colored magazines with pies and holiday décor on the covers and had commented to my friend that my mom had almost every single one of those magazine subscriptions and oh how I envied her. It was my turn to check out then and the cashier started talking to me about one of the pie’s taking up the entire cover. I nodded in excitement thinking she was just as jazzed as I was about pies, the holidays and women’s magazines. But right as I had started to smile and say, “I know, pies!—” she rolled her eyes and started in on a long tirade about how disgusted she was with the pie. She sneered like the pie was a known criminal who’d just been set free.

I faltered. What was wrong with pies? I didn’t understand. Maybe she was a health nut… As she was bagging up my items, she kept going on about the pie and how much it aggravated her. I looked back at the magazine and the offending pie for clues when she then started in on Woman’s Day in particular.

“I mean, come on, Woman’s day? Why does it have to be a woman’s day? Making pies?” she enunciated the words woman’s and pie while waving her hands zestfully. I swiped my credit card.

And bingo was his name-o.

“So you’re a feminist?” I commented.
She beamed, glowing as warm and bright as a freshly baked apple pie.

“Exactly!” she smiled like I got it and went on. “Why are they assuming only women want to make pies?! And why is it called Woman’s Day? It should just be called… Day!”

“Right…” I nodded and though I completely did not feel that Woman’s Day should be entitled Day or women’s inclination for pie making was all wrong I wanted to be helpful and show my support of her passion and chimed in, “men can make pies too!”

She looked downright exuberant now and like she might grab a protest sign hidden behind her cash register that said, Men make pies too! and start marching around the store.

By this time my transaction was done and my friend who had been ahead of me in line was waiting near the exit doors. I smiled politely again and waved goodbye. She looked deeply relieved like she had gotten through to me—made me understand that women’s magazines and pies were a throwback to the 50’s when women served their men whiskey and lit their cigars while wearing pearls… all of this after a long day of vacuuming, of course.

Little did she know that she was preaching to the wrong lass. It’s not that I am not a feminist though (those types of things simply don’t rile me up). Am I all for women’s rights? Absolutely. Do I think Lena Dunham is the shit? I sure do. But I am offended by the idea of being barefoot and preggo in a kitchen baking a pie for my husband? Nope. I think that sounds delightful. Do I therefore belong in the kitchen baking pies? No. I don’t belong any one place in particular, not to a kitchen or a pie or heck even a man. I belong where I say I belong and my mind changes daily on that. Sometimes I do belong in a kitchen baking pies, you better freakin’ believe I do. I love pie! And other days I belong to the open road. And still others I belong to my laundry basket that is overflowing. I belong to my keyboard and my camera. I belong to the forest and the sea. I belong to God.

I will tell you what does offend me though: the idea that women should be just one thing. They should be career women and be offended by Woman’s Day insinuating they should spend their days baking pies. That’s preposterous. Woman’s Day is simply celebrating women, however they want to spend their day, making pies or not making pies. Okay fine, then they should all be mothers and they should all love to cook. Nope still wrong. Not everyone wants to be a mother and that’s okay too. I personally don’t relate to that one, but I also don’t undertsand the allure of cottage cheese; the world is just incomprehensible sometimes. Now wait for it, here’s a real doozy, what if you want both?

I do. I want a career. I want to write novels and travel the globe and live out of my car and soak up every human experience possible. But some day I want babies, loads of ‘em and a hubby too. I would like a house with a front porch and a big kitchen for cooking meals for that family. I’d like a dog and maybe some goats.

Lately though, maybe it’s because I am nearing 30 and people have taken it upon themselves to worry for me, I have gotten in a lot of conversations that utterly baffle me with how insulting they are. I am going to combine all of these very real convos into one for you now:

”So are you seeing anyone?”
”Nope.”
”How old are you?”
”28,” I answer because I am not ashamed of my age or sharing it.
“Ohhhh… do you want me to set you up with anyone?”
”No thank you. I am footloose and fancy free.”
”Are you sure you want to do that?”
”Be footloose and fancy free? Yes. I love being footloose and fancy-free”
”Yeah… but you’re not getting any younger…”
”I appreciate your concern but I am really not worried.”
”No you’re right. I would start to worry by 35.”
”Um. No I am not going to worry then either.”
”But don’t you want kids?”
”Yup. Six of them.”
”Oh my gosh! Your eggs are probably already dwindling! You should really get on this.”
”Yeah… no. I again am not worried. And if I have to adopt half the orphans in Africa and Vietnam with or without a man, I am comfortable with the fact that I will one day be a mother and I also would like to be a writer as well.”
”Well… kudos to you…” they say begrudgingly.

The problem I have with these conversations besides their being wildly offensive in nature is that people are implying my life sans man or sans children right now is cause for worry. It isn’t right. It’s against the grain. Aren’t I a woman? Isn’t that what all us womenfolk want?

Yeah, some of us want that. And some don’t. And some want the career and some want the babies and some want the pie and some want a little of all three and some want none of the above. Leave us alone! Leave Woman’s Day alone! Leave our bloody egg count and our want for pies or adventure alone! No woman who wants to be a mother and only a mother should be labeled un-ambitious because she doesn’t have inclinations other than to procreate. Being a mother is beautiful. So is having lofty career goals. And so is wanting both.

And guess what the very best thing of all is? Women who have the confidence to go after what they want whether or not they are getting older, their egg count is dwindling, their other friends happen to be married, have babies, houses, dream careers, but still they press on knowing who they are and what they want out of this crazy life.

Hmmm. Got a bit soap-boxey there. Maybe I’m a feminist after all… Just not one who is offended by pies.