I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy, or at least a cowboy’s wife. When we were kids, my sister and I sat on the basement steps and pretended they were our covered wagon. We had reins to our invisible horses, and we acted out many western adventures that way. My husband was Eric Fleming (the trail boss), and my sister was married to Clint Eastwood (Rowdy) from “Rawhide”. My family was truly a fan of westerns, we watched them whenever we could. My mom reminds me that we used to watch our favorite westerns (and a couple other shows like “Lassie” and “Sky King”) on Saturday morning, lying on the floor with our dad, his arm around each of us. He also introduced me to many of the cowboy songs I know, which he sang to us at night, and mom reminds me that we often used to cry when hearing them because they were so sad. (These songs will come up in a later blog.) One of my favorite movies was “Once Upon a Time in the West” starring Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson (directed by Sergio Leone!). After I was newly married at 18, my husband and I went to a marathon at the University of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns. I even picked what I considered a western name, and decided that would be my pen name if ever I became a famous writer — Casey Wayland.
I know that the cowboys actually comprised only a short term of history, 35 or so years, but I still have the fascination for them, like many others I guess. Our place in New Mexico is surrounded by ranches, there’s an old jail down the street just like in the movies, it has a rodeo grounds, and cowboy boots and hats are the usual wear. Of course, Sarita and I had to get our outfits as well, although I picked up my first hat in Albuquerque many years ago on a school trip to a convention out there. I just got another summer cowboy hat, and one pair of boots that I’m still breaking in, pretty mild in comparison with Sarita. She actually is getting quite a collection of boots, maybe about 6 pair, including a pair with lavender tops!! Cowboy boots and Vans, very eclectic. Her hats are cowboy Mexican, and look wonderful on her dreads. We got her two new cowboy shirts on our last visit. For Halloween, she dressed as Nat Love two different years, and was very convincing, as well as quite handsome! (I was a dead bride her first year, and in my mind I enjoyed pretending we were married…) She always stays in character for the whole day, so the kids really have to think about who this “substitute” is. At least we can fit into New Mexican culture as well as bring it back with us to California with our clothing.
Our town in NM is an old cowboy town, and there is nothing that makes me happier. As I said, there is a rodeo grounds in town, and at least once a year it sees the cowboys and cowgirls, bulls and bucking horses. (We’ve even met a woman who always does the barrel racing — she’s in her seventies!) Sarita and I both love rodeos, and on her birthday the first year we were together, we went to snowy Truckee on the train and ended up watching bull riding in the motel room (after eating sushi in a fancy restaurant — no one can say we don’t have varied tastes). Actually, it was the PBR (Professional Bull Riding), and it became a routine for us, every weekend we watch for it on TV. We even bought a sports channel, just to be sure we can see as much as possible. (Never in my life did I think I would EVER watch a sport on TV!) It was the thing that pulled us through the year I had chemo and radiation, and during the finals in Las Vegas, my daughter was filming us for her college video class. We do get kind of carried away, and definitely have our favorites — often the guys from Brazil. We also found little red cowboy boots at the trading post in our town, and gave them to the grandchild, and I think they made it in the video. (My daughter used to have cowboy boots when she was 2 or 3, and she wore them constantly with her purple ruffly skirt and blue striped cowboy shirt with lacy collar — she had style even then!)
So our new thing, now that I’m doing pretty well, is to actually GO to the events. This was the second year we went to Sacramento to see the PBR, and I can tell how much better I am because I wasn’t even scooching down in the seat to ease my back pain after 2 hours. Oh my, it is such a production, full of loud music, tons of special lights, and the bulls look so huge (and the cowboys kind of small)! It is really really fun. (You can tell how much fun if you watch Sarita’s video of one of the rides, and all you hear is her screaming!) The first year I got my picture taken with one of the sweetest cowboy bull riders, but this year we missed the guys who were meeting and greeting. But it was still great, and we found out that they will be in Oakland in September, so we can go again! We are preparing for our move to NM, because we not only want to see every rodeo in our new little town, but we plan to be sure to see the PBR in Albuquerque every year. We have even found friends there to go with.
Maybe this all is just another reason why my soul belongs to our new home, and why I pray every day that I will survive long enough to be able to live there full time. It’s like a childhood dream coming true, and even though it’s not exactly what I used to imagine, it’s still perfect. Actually, thank god it’s not the way it used to be, because it’s way overdue time for compassion and fairness for the earliest inhabitants of the west, the Native Americans. (There are definitely aspects of cowboys that make me cringe in horror). My sister is shocked that I have this cowboy dream, because I’ve never particularly loved horses (as has she), and I’m not really your rough and tumble cowboy type. But in my head I am (and a much more politically correct cowboy at that) and I am certainly appreciative of some others who are. So Trail’s End, I invite you to bring on a little of the wild, wild west for these two city girls!