Turning the north eastern corner of my travels, longing to see my very much missed family in South Carolina beckoned. For years I assembled details of my sister’s life and imagined her home in Pomaria  a IMG_0275thousand times. Not until arriving, pulling into her driveway and seeing her sweet smile had I fully ascertained this. I wanted to experience nothing out of her ordinary and encounter all the ways my precious
nephew Owen had grown since I’d seen him last. He’d begun walking, IMG_0268with her black cat Jet and pit Tucker playfully racing around him. We’d cruise around to the dry man-made lakes and serendipitously stumble upon a phenomenal food truck serving delicious blueberry and bacon
pizza. Aiming to accomplish something, in going through clothes strewn about we’d get carried away as usual in the shenanigans of sisters playing dress-up; Amanda unavoidably wearing something hilarious. It’s these ways in which we will never lose our innocence and in which the laughter is perpetual.

They’d talk me into staying another night, for the rodeo in Saluda, at which she’d be working with her IMG_0290friends at their food truck the Steel Horse selling chicken, brisket, pulled pork doused in “awesome sauce” accompanied by pineapple slaw, mac-n-cheese and baked beans. She borrowed a black long-sleeve shirt of mine that evening; I missed her every time I’d catch that lingering scent of the smoke house in my laundry. A rainy evening, everyone would complain about how cold it was, freezing, even. I was unphased by the relative “cold, but not really” and the rain,
relishing in last attainable experiences to enjoy with my IMG_0304family, soaking in the last of Southern life. I’d wander off to watch children as young as 4 mutton busting (riding sheep) and roping goats, their little bleh-eh-ehs and bleating.  A young guy adoringly teaching a young girl, both dressed in flannels, cowboy hats and jeans, to lasso the feet of her Chestnut mare. The wet red clay stained boots of cowboys, the sounds made while herding, clicks and whistles and the steam rising off the strong backs of bulls.

 

Leaving early the next morning, my mind was quickly led astray in pondering the American landscape. I’d recall Pioneer Plaza, a massive exhibition in Dallas, TX of a re-created cattle-drive composed of bronze life-sized sculptures of cowboys atop mustangs and long-horned steer. A place symbolic or not, where I’d subsume my newfound freedom after a certain conversation concluded the relationship with my guy. I’d have recently torn through the pages of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. Driving, I’d encounter apparitions of cowboys and their all but vanished past; consider the effects of barbed-wire in 1883, the spread of civilization across the country’s expanse and in three short years later bison being primarily absent from the plains.

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I’d imagine the brilliant dark orange setting sun reaching desperately across the widely stretched horizons of vast Western landscapes studded with brush and arroyo. As the night grew dark, along the open road with my windows rolled down, I’d listen to the rolling sounds of Ramsay Midwood, Shovels & Rope, JD McPherson eventually settling on the sweet Nikki Lane.

 

 

There’s a cowboy that comes to mind and to me in dreams. An attraction of spirit; sparks caught without warning, taken by the wind, and wildfire. Mirror lake, enjoying champagne and lobster bisque, overwhelmed by sparkling synchronicity and parallels in our past. I’d been sitting still, wading in stagnant water, and of the necessity to live wildly and love freely he’d remind me. I am still enamored by our reflections together: On one such evening, topless, but both still wearing blue  jeans, our reflection in the moonlit skylight above my big pine bed. Yet learning to love someone else and who is also enshrouded in such mystery, enigmatic emotions exist and are best made sense of in a language of tantra, telepathy, symbols and sensations. Exchange of breath and the lack there of, exploring truths and then their refracted opposites,  shifting paradigms. We’re still discerning in just which ways we’ve served the divine purpose as catalysts in freeing one another. My spirit shaken, in revelation of the life that still exists within; I suppose it’s gratitude that I ultimately express. Experientially, it’s fleeting moments such as these equal in passion and despair, love and loss, that set fire to the stars.

They rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and 10,000 worlds for the choosing.

-Cormac McCarthy