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.

That Wasn’t Rock Bottom

Musings

Moving home and the breakup and going for broke and the looming big 3-0 all seemed like really good contenders for rock bottom—ah-ha, so nice to see you again, you rotter, long time no see—But no, no that was premature. That was a very, very premature statement. And I fear I was remiss in thinking it.

Let me give you a piece of advice, friends. Don’t ever say you have hit rock bottom. Don’t even dare think it. Because if you think you are at rock bottom—you are in fact not—that is just the sludge, and you can sink infinitely deeper into the mire than you ever thought humanly possible, and that may be rock bottom, but it’s hard to say. It could get worse. Don’t tempt fate.

I had decided after being home all of two days and having the onset of pretty heathenous panic attacks, that I simply could not live in the Midwest for anything, not love or money—though neither of those things were batting at my door. And I decided I would turn around and go right back to Wyoming.

However, my fundage was not exactly ideal. I had enough to get back and the ever-so-smallish cushion of once I got back, having a teensie dot to work with should I need to fill up my gas tank to go apply for a job. Being footloose and fanciful, I thought that was fine.

Though I feel I should interject with this little tidbit: before I left the Midwest I was having chest pains, reminiscent of what I thought were heart attack symptoms. Perhaps that was premonition. I even went into my chiropractor in a tizzy of distress and said, “is it possible I am having a heart attack?”

To which he laughed and asked how old I was and promptly told me no.

My cousin—also a chiropractor—told me it could be residual effects of heartbreak. Cool, awesome, I thought snidely. During my first breakup, I got so stressed out—to be fair there were other factors then as there are now—that I started to give myself hives. All. Over. My. Body.

Now, I had simply worked myself up to heart attack symptoms. My breakups are bound to kill me in time, it seems. This is why I should probably just date the mountains from here on out. If those kill me, at least I will be respected and revered as some sort of mountain woman and not some overly sentimental fool.

I digress. Naturally.

So how did I go from deciding to move back to my beloved Wyoming while somehow manifesting my life into wild writing success plus owning a ranch, to heart attack symptoms and crying in a car repair shop in Fargo, North Dakota?

Well, you see it went like this: I thought taking the more Northern route seemed fun for a change of pace and to see things like the famous Fargo, and the Painted Canyons. It was only forty five minutes off course, anyhow. Big whoop. I made it to Fargo last night and had good intentions to keep going. But see, I haven’t been sleeping all that well, on account of the chest pains and the worry, so I was plum tuckered out and my mom rather insisted on an airbnb.

So I found a nice single mom with a bed to spare in her house for $32. I slept poorly even though the gracious hostess gave me a heaping glass of Chardonnay—she didn’t know about my nerves but I had told her I just drank a coffee amped up on espresso and probably wouldn’t fall asleep.

I woke at 6, to my harp sounds alarm, which no matter how you dice it, is always irritating. It jarred me from sleep, but still I felt exhausted, but once I was awoken, I couldn’t fall back asleep for my constant companion Incessant Worry was now up too.

I packed my things, wrote a note to my hostess, and got in my car. Only to have it lurch and sputter and barely accelerate while the check engine light blinked at me as manic and pulsating as my heart.

I made it to a McDonalds where I got out, tried my mom and sisters, to no avail and then broke down and texted my ex. Because I am mostly an idiot. But I am also a sad and distressed one at that. He gave some suggestions, and made me laugh, to his credit and then my mom called. I began to get hysterical upon hearing her voice, because by this point I had driven to a car repair place and called several and apparently “free estimates” are not a thing that is done in Fargo, North Dakota. Everywhere starts out around $100 to simply tell you what is wrong.

What else was wrong, was that my mom was calling me from the hospital for chest pains of her own.

I began to have visions of being stranded in Fargo. Of something happening to my mom. Of truly being in a sad, sad state where things definitely could go from bad to worse. I checked car repair, after car repair, only to be told diagnostics were around $100. And that is when I lost it on one of the men:

“But what if I pay you $100 only for you to tell me it’s a $200 repair?! I don’t have that kind money!” I yelped with a wavering voice. He just shrugged and said, he was sorry.

I get it. He is sorry. Sorta. But he can’t give me preferential treatment because I am a sobbing girl and my life is scaring me to my marrow and my mother’s in the hospital. I get it man. And I told him that I got it. He was running a business, not a charity. But that is when I calmly-ish-walked back to my car and all hell broke out from my attempting to hold it together by repeatedly telling myself this would one day be funny, when in reality my emotions needed to overflow.

How dare you think that other stuff was rock bottom! I berated myself while I sobbed big gut shattering sobs. That was clearly not rock bottom. Now, possibly having to live in Fargo, North Dakota to work off a car repair I cannot afford, while my mom is in the ER and I am not there because I am a flighty human, is definitely in the vicinity of rock bottom.

I looked up and saw that my eyes were the color of a mermaid’s tail reflected underwater and I noted the irony of their beauty when I was truly at my most downtrodden.

I called a friend who is very calm and helpful in these situations and she took the reins and made me a car appointment and told me to go in because nothing could be done until the problem was diagnosed.

So now, here I sit. I think I’ve worried all the worries right out of my system because I actually don’t have any more.

At any rate, what can be done really? This is the exact mire I am in right now, and the beauty of rock bottom—yes there is beauty, and no it’s not that you can only go up, gag, I hate that cliche—is that I think I am about to be on the threshold of brilliance. I deal very poorly with initial curve balls, but once I adapt I am very resilient.

Plus one of my favorite quotes of all time is from one Ms. Incredible J.K. Rowling stating as follows:

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

I guess it is rebuilding time. Also I am going to learn how to fix my own car. And have a proper savings account that has more than $5.70. I guess I’ll start there.