People keep asking me if we’re going to sell the ranch. My answer is always, “Yes, definitely, I mean I don’t know, probably maybe not, no, no way.”
This little ranch in Gorman Texas, is the dirt on which Sam and I landed after we took a flying leap out of our careers and lives in Colorado, minutes before the 2009 US recession and an historic Texas drought.
That ranch still mesmerizes me in the same way newborns mesmerize their sweaty, worn out mothers.
I forget, every time I come here, I have to scrub mouse poo out of my kitchen cabinets, and wash the silverware because – little known fact – mice don’t have bladders, so if you see mouse poo, guess what you don’t see? I know. Gross. You’re welcome.
I also forget that August in Gorman feels like July in Haiti, except Sam is there at six every morning, staring at me from the edge of our bed saying, “You ready?”
What he wants me ready for is the next nine hours during which I will scrape and paint the exterior of our 100-year old house, crawl around underneath it with the coon skeletons and snake skins or maybe just relax in the million-degree attic and watch for sparks among the old copper wires and cedar shakes.
Owning and restoring an historic home is so romantic when you’re married to an uber wealthy oil dude from Dallas – I assume.
But watching dusk fall last night, from two plastic chairs in the back of our old red barn, Sam said, “Are you sure you want to sell it?”
“No, are you.”
“Uh uh, ” he said kicking dirt that we’ve soaked with our own sweat.
This is the last place I saw my cousin Kelly. She galloped our grey mare Belle to the highest spot on the ranch with a morphine patch on her arm, one day after chemo. Six months later, she was gone.
This is the place with the oak trees, from which Sam hung a garden hose with a sprinkler head, so he can shower butt naked outside every day, like, you know, real men do.
This is the 60 year-old barn that held ten shivering horses during the hardest, coldest snowstorm we’d ever seen – not just in Texas, anywhere.
I learned to farm and sweat and weep here, and how sometimes getting everything you say you want can be the best and worst thing that ever happened to you.
Right now, I’m sitting in the room where Jesus introduced himself to me as the rock in rock bottom. For months, I sat here with the Bible in my lap, watching the West Texas sun rise, alternately daring and begging God to show up and be real.
He did, just like he promises. He poured through those tall, old windows like the yellow prairie light, and spoke in whispers and explosions that went off in my head and settled into my heart, layer upon layer like red sandstone in the desert.
How else could I respond? I spent the next year in this room, this chair, writing a 60,000-word love letter to thank him.
I’m marked and worn and striated by this place, and it’s hard to put a price on that.