I’m in the big town today. I left the buttes of western North Dakota yesterday morning with half of the countryside stuck on the tires and body of my car. I watched the road stretch out in front of me from behind my cracked windshield and my world flatten out and disappear in my rearview mirror.
I headed east via the backroads, stopping only to drop off a photograph, get an oil change and, well, wash my damn car already. I figured it would be worth the effort now. Because today there’s not a scoria road in site, which means my car will remain clean for approximately 3.5 days before I head back west after my CD release concert on Saturday.
I spent this morning remembering how to use street signs instead of landmarks to navigate while I made my way downtown for a couple of radio interviews. Since then I’ve been wandering in and out of stores and coffee shops, browsing trinkets and clothes, people watching and latte sipping, procrastinating the list every country girl makes when she gets a chance to spend a weekend in the big town and thinking about Christmas presents.
Because I love the ranch. I love the stars at night and the way the sun rises through my big windows while I sit on my overstuffed chair and wait for an idea to come. I love the way the grass grows tall and unkempt, the barbed wire fences, the mud on my boots and the horses grazing in the pastures. I love the quiet and the familiarity and the loneliness of it all.
But today I’m writing to you from behind the window of a coffee shop in Fargo, North Dakota. Outside cars roll by, couples hunker down against the cold, the store fronts twinkle with garland and Christmas lights and men in business suits and hair-gel carry briefcases as they swing open the glass doors of tall buildings, looking like a completely different species than the men in our oil patch, on our ranches and in our tractors.
I watch the city bustle on the brink of another holiday with a familiar fondness I feel each time I visit cities like these across the country and I understand what it is that has me looking forward to these visits.
Because with all of that space around me, all of the familiarity that comes with living as an adult where you were born, working where you went to school and knowing how the road winds, how the dust blows, what winter smells like as it comes in with the wind and what time the coffee’s on at home, it is nice to be surrounded for a while by a place in constant motion.
It’s nice to go unnoticed as I stop in to grab a bite to eat, slowly turning through the pages of the paper where my column appears every Sunday, my face next a headline that tells a little story about the ranch and life on the other side of the state. I laugh a little at the thought of my weekly visits to this town, put down the paper and think that it’s nice to actually be here.
It’s nice to go unnoticed as I weave in and out of stores, touching the soft fabrics of clothing hanging in cute boutiques and I like how my boots look on the pavement.
I like the old buildings bordering the one-way downtown streets.
I like the alleys.
We don’t have alleys.
I like the street lights and stop lights and rooftop fences. I like the pigeons and the glass doors, the pretty women in pea coats and heels and the walls full of beautiful shoes.
I like the well groomed couples in SUVs. I like to imagine them going home to perfectly shoveled walkways and a Christmas tree sparkling in their picture window facing out on a quiet loop of a neighborhood.
I like how there’s a place for coffee on every corner and I don’t have to brew it.
The same goes with bagels and burgers and muffins and beer.
I want to buy every pretty thing in the windows and every book in the bookstore. I want to take the art back to the ranch and hang it on my walls. I want to eat at every restaurant and drink every cocktail and listen to the music in the bars at night. I want to walk through the streets, sing my songs and get this city stuck to the bottom of my boots, having my fill before I head back home.
Because sometimes I get lonesome for places like Fargo, places that could so easily be home to a girl who knows she belongs in the hills, but just needs the lights of the big town to remind her.
I‘ll be playing at Studio 222 in Downtown Fargo, ND on Saturday at 7:00 pm.
CD signing at Zandbroz downtown on Saturday from 12-2 pm
Click here for a chance to win exclusive tickets to the concert.
Contest ends tonight at midnight