Friday, January 03, 2014

An essay about my cowboy boots.

Many years ago, possessed by I don't know what, I found and bought a pair of red cowboy boots. I wore them as many ways as I could think to wear them, although in retrospect, I believe they were aspirational and symbolic, in that they represented something about myself that I wanted to express. I loved them and they were beautiful, but there were days when they seemed better than I was, braver and brasher and less afraid, and that's not a good situation, in terms of footwear. Gradually I wore them less and less, and then I gave them away.

Recently, I became possessed of the idea that, again, I needed a pair of cowboy boots. So I began to look for them, with patience but with purpose. I found them: the right price and beautiful. They are one of my favorite colors for shoes, navy blue, but dark enough that they can seem almost black. They are comfortable, even, which is a great quality, especially when coupled with beauty. I'm sure they are also aspirational and symbolic, but their meaning is elusive to me at this point. I wear them--not exactly often, but regularly, and each time I do I am more pleased with them.

I wore them today, for instance, the day my son and his wife and family went back home to their life in Arizona. They'd been staying with us for the last week. It has been so lovely each morning, to have a little boy, then another, appear up the stairs, ready for breakfast and a chat. This morning, for instance, the older boy told me he wanted corn flakes and raisins for his breakfast. "Craisins," he amended, meaning dried cranberries. I happened to have some dried cranberries, leftover from my fruitcake baking. But I also offered him the option of some raisins I had bought, the Jumbo Raisin Medley of Trader Joe's provenance. I showed him a rather large golden raisin.

He shook his head emphatically. "No, I don't want those."

"Do you want to try one just to see?" I asked, but gently.

He took one and ate it with the expression of a scientist performing an exacting experiment. He finished, having eaten it very thoroughly--it was quite a large raisin--and repeated, "No, I don't want those."

So craisins it was. He ate and hummed little melodies, asked questions and made comments about the pictures and drawings we had posted on our kitchen wall. This kind of heaven is what I am talking about. One of the nights this week, his cousin spent the night, and the following morning we made waffles. I poured syrup carefully into all the squares and cut the waffles into pieces so we could have a lovely, fleeting breakfast.

Sure, there were tears and late nights, little meltdowns, but mostly, it was just a joy to have them. So this morning when I dressed to accompany them on the first part of their journey, down to Orem to visit my parents, whence my son and family would depart to the south and we would return to the north, I wanted to be comfortable but also fitting for the occasion, so I put on my boots. It's worth noting these departures, I feel.

When we got home, I was so tired. I've been ill, am still recovering. Today's outing was just about what I could handle, maybe a little more than I could handle. I started some laundry, and lay down on the sheetless bed to rest. I didn't take my boots off, I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't think I'd be sleeping so long. Maybe I was tired enough to do no more than sink into bed.

When I woke up three hours later, I thought, there's no good reason to take a nap in cowboy boots. But maybe when you're ill, a little bit exhausted and a little bit melancholy, there's not a compelling reason to take them off, either. I lay there a little longer, checked my phone. They'd arrived in St. George, the first leg of their trip. I took my boots off and the historian and I prepared for a quiet night in.


3 comments:

gilian said...

Oh my. This essay is poignant and lovely and touches me deep in my heart. I've loved seeing photos of your family together, even while wishing they could have all, every one, been there. Who could have guessed when they were smaller and younger that this is what life would look like now--reunions and separations--again and again?

But your boots sound perfect.

Nik said...

This essay makes me melancholy. The image of you sleeping in boots will be the sign for all melancholies of children moved away and children getting bigger.

Natasha Setil said...

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