Wow. It’s December 30th. I just looked down at the little calendar icon thing at the bottom of my computer screen and it screamed at me–“It’s almost the end of a whirlwind year lady! It’s almost the beginning of 365 days of new adventure ahead. You should probably reflect on this!”
I jumped right out of my neckerchief at the thought, and since I’m not going anywhere today because nature is ringing in the New Year with yet another blizzard and more drifts of snow blocking my driveway, I figured now is as good of time as any to let you all know something about me.
I am a grateful, frizzy haired, pug loving, frozen and slightly more squishy thanks to the holiday cookies lady.
I am thankful.
I am thrilled and hopeful and full of love and nerves and excitement and overwhelmed…not only at the thought of a year full of changes and decisions and heartbreak and joy and manual labor at my back, but for the one ahead.
The one ahead that is sure to bring all of those things and more…especially that manual labor stuff.
But before I look ahead with you all, ahead to a year where I hope I will see the dust from your car trailing behind you down our pink road and onto our doorstep, I want to look back.
Because looking back always helps remind me, especially when I am in the middle of shoveling away what the blizzard brought us, or sweating and cursing the burs of summer, or trudging through the gumbo of the buttes after a wayward cow, that I am here.
Right back where I started from.
Right where I belong.
See, I’m not sure if I made this clear in the beginning of this little project I started (which I simply refer to as “writing it all down,”) that last year at this time I was living alone. I was living alone in a big house in a town an hour and a half away from the ranch–an hour and a half away from where my husband had just moved to take a job.
And I couldn’t go with him because I too, had a job to do. And together, we had a house to finish–a house we purchased on a good five year plan to gut it all out, put it all back together nice and shiny and live there, working and saving and making our way back to the ranch in good time.
But the fast paced industry in which husband is employed sent to him an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up–an opportunity to continue work with his company and live where we wanted to live. For a good long time.
And we were looking for some permanency, because we had spent the last five New Years in different houses.
Whew, were we ready to be home.
So this couldn’t be passed up. Because ten years ago, when we graduated from high school, together, we would have never guessed that we could be out here in our mid-twenties and starting the life we always wanted.
So husband packed his bags and I kept my job and my stuff in the house that was torn apart from wall to wall. And on the weekends, along with our wonderfully helpful family members, we hammered and nailed and painted and sawed and planned and stained and varnished and cleaned and one of us may or may not have gotten her head stuck in a ladder.
I can’t remember.
And I was exhausted. And I missed my husband. And I was lonely and felt like the winter was never going to end. I cried a bit and then looked on the bright side and then cried a bit more.
Then I went to Vegas.
And I met big Elvis and saw Bette Midler and won a dollar and wore my fancy outfits.
Then it was back to the real world, more snow and more building and more missing each other and more tears until one day I finished a job that was challenging and good for me, we cleaned up the sawdust, packed up my shoe collection and the pug, shut the door and put out the for sale sign.
For Sale To the Highest Bidder-the last two years of our lives (and some of husband’s blood with my tears splashed in).
And down the road we went, all of our earthly possessions crammed in husband’s pickup, sweat trickling down our faces, paint on our clothes. Here I would like to say the sky opened up and the sun shone down on us and all was right with the world.
But I am nothing if I’m not real and so I will say instead, I was scared to death. Because I had major plans. And I told people about them. I had this vision of living and having a family and sharing this place with others since I was a little girl.
And here I was and all I could hear in my head, over the birds chirping and the cows mooing and the coyotes howling was my voice…”now what?”
But after a mental breakdown, which I’m sure I’ve told you about, that husband of mine found me out in the grass, and told me to do it already.
Just do it. Do what you want to do. Do what you have always wanted to do.
And I guess all I needed was permission, because in the last seven months, from day two of dropping my bags on the floor of my grandparents’ home, I picked myself a welcome home bouquet and began the journey of telling you all about it…
…and damn it if you didn’t listen and cheer me on as I kicked off my work shoes and postponed showers and my daily grooming habits to roll in the grass, to walk down the pink road, to bury my face in the neck of a good horse, to climb to the top of every hill on this place and take a good look at it all.
To really see it.
And you laughed with me as I danced in the pouring rain and then shook your heads when I came up with the brilliant idea to fling our bodies down the side of a slippery, deadly, bloody clay butte, defying death and acquiring a nasty case of butt burn.
You listened as I suffered from the nostalgia a childhood home cultivates and nodded your head as I told you about a youth spent in the dirt and mud and hills of this place, hair wild and dreams big. You helped me welcome my relatives for a family reunion and remember my grandmother, make her jelly and imagine her life here.
You shared your memories as well and I thank you for that.
You came with me as I jumped in the cool North Dakota Lake Sakakawea…
…baked my skin under the big, blue sky on the Maah Dahh Hey Trail…
….held up a rattlesnake….
and won a photo contest for crying out loud. (What?!)
And as I continued to add to the members of our pet family, you never judged, just oooed and ahhhed over the utter cuteness.
I love that you agree with me on the cuteness…
…and the fact that you never judge me for my obsession with the pug, but cheered him on as he heroically saved a cat from an eminent death and were genuinely worried when you thought that damn dog was lost or eaten by coyotes or mangled from a porcupine attack.
Which is more than I can say for some members of my family. So thank you very much.
We rode our bikes through the summer when we weren’t on the backs of our horses.
You walked with me down autumn paths and got in close as I took my time examining the mushrooms, and stems of flowers, and acorns buried underneath the leaves.
You helped me appreciate the small things–the small things that sometimes go unnoticed. I noticed them because I wanted to show them to you.
And you wanted to see them.
So I thank you for that too.
Together we marveled at the changing of the leaves…
…and welcomed, bravely with teeth bared, the first snow…
So I took you along, trudging through snow banks, examining the contrast and the shapes the flakes make on their own and piled up like that.
I flung our bodies down snow covered hills and to a screaming stop in a big pile of family at the bottom.
…and of course suffered through my home movies and maintained your patience as we kneaded the dough in our tiny kitchen.
And you tasted Cowboy’s cooking.
And, again, didn’t judge as I continued my study on his strong jaw line, masculine silhouette and dark, mysterious eyes.
Which is, again, more than I can say for some members of my family.
So, you know, thanks!
So as the new year rolls in and my plans to make you all a place to stay, a place to hike and bike and ride horses and take pictures continue I know the challenges are ahead. I know this. But it is because of you and your appreciation, your enthusiasm and support and thumbs up and kind words that I was able to see this place again–not only through my eyes, my grown up eyes, but through your eyes as well.
Because this year you know I didn’t scale mountains, or travel the seven seas, or save the world in any way.
But I saved myself.
In 2010 I saved myself by finding within me the spirit of a little girl who fell in love with this land and possessed the gumption and nerve and energy and wild-hair-up-her-ass ideas to maybe make them work someday.
And I have you to thank for that.
So I raise my cocktail glass to a Happy New Year friends.
And to more good stuff, hard stuff, muddy and snowy and annoying and furry and lovable stuff ahead.
Oh, and my New Year’s resolution? To finally get to that damned laundry already….
See ya at the ranch!