...I used to think of you.
I used to think of kissing in the middle of US Route-90 for what seemed like hours, making love under the stars, and sharing laughs over dinner at The Capri. Of hiking Big Bend until neither me or the dog could keep up with your long stride and the amazing views of the Boquillas Canyon. I remembered the outdoor showers and just how safe I felt in your arms. But those memories also triggered others, like the one of you walking out of our airstream trailer to take calls that came too late in the night. I remember the hurt that ensued, the darkness that took over, and the feeling of loss that followed.
But those memories didn’t seem fair to the place I loved, specially after you were gone, so I set out to make new ones.
I drove the hillside roads singing at the top of lungs to all the songs you used to cringe at but I secretly loved. I visited every unconventional corner and took all the photos my heart desired without any hesitation or judgement. I crossed US Route-90, arm in arm with my friends, and cheered on my 30th birthday until we closed down the White Buffalo Bar. I sat on the side of a mountain, tequila in hand, and had the most amazing heart to heart while watching the sun disappear into darkness. I watched as the harvest moon lit up the sky and felt my lungs fill with the refreshing dessert air. I ran through a thorn bush from a cute fluffy skunk, and then laughed until I couldn't catch my breath. For the first time in a long time, I slept soundly next to someone else.
My friends and I rode mules (the carts, not the animals!) up and down the mountains in awe of our surroundings. Adrenaline flowed through my veins as we went up the steepest hills and saw what was left of vehicles that were not as equipt to make climb. We found where the mountains met the clouds and though I was soaking wet (and cold AF) I felt alive. I found pretty rocks, loaded them in the car, and later forgot to bring them home. I stared down a menacing scorpion on the wall, and if you ask me, he won the staring contest. I earned my outdoorsman patch after having to pee in the wild about 35 hundred times. We sang songs with lyrics I would never repeat in front of my mother, or really anyone for that matter. We swore like sailors, laughed like hyenas, and decided not to find out if that rattle snake also brought its friends into the cave. We fed cows, a horse, buffalo, and even that same fluffy skunk. My friends made me feel special, loved, and safe… even as we stared down at a cave called the mouth of hell. Somewhere on the mountain side, I found a lighthearted and playful version of myself that I thought was forever lost. And just like that, West Texas and my entire being once again belonged to me.
When I think of West Texas, I no longer think of you.