Friday, September 01, 2006

Not a Cowgirl

My dad grew up riding horses in cowboy country. My mom spent summers with her grandparents. Her grandpa rode the Arizona-Mexico border checking cows for hoof and mouth disease. I was born in the rugged West where cowboy hats and wranglers are the uniform and rodeos the entertainment. Working cowboys were our close friends and my dad roped every weekend when I was a baby.

Gradually, the cowboy life faded from our family. My dad quit roping and then we shifted to an agrarian lifestyle with cowboy memories only a distant dream. Ball caps replaced cowboy hats and Redwing work boots took over for Justins. We had one lame old horse that no one could ride.

We moved to East Texas and bought a good-sized homestead. Our hobby farm life was a sweet one, but virtually untouched by any vestige of cowboyism. Agrarianism is where I was formed, where I grew up and married a preacher and moved far away, deeper into the South.

Something happened right after I left, and I don’t even know what caused it. My parents went back to their cowboy roots with a vengeance. My sister married a cowboy and my brothers started to rope and ranch instead of training draft horses. Before I knew it my folks had joined a cowboy church and my baby sister was in rodeo and had the big belt buckle to prove it.

In the whole scheme of a life, they only took a few years off from cowboying. But for me, it was most of my life at home. I’m the gap child, the one who grew up and left without cowboy influence only to have it return later.

Who. Are. These. People. I say it jokingly, but with a touch of seriousness. They are at home in the culture they left for only a few years, but to me it’s virtually foreign, to my husband and children, even more so. It was a crazy feeling to feel a bit out of place at my parents’ home with a gathering of their friends because I was the only one in a skirt! (Those of you who know my family will understand this even more.) Farmers I understand. Cowboys, not so much. I like them. I respect them. I find their way of life appealing. But it’s something I know nothing about.

Of course I love my family and I’m as close to them as ever. But I'll never belong in this facet of their culture. That’s OK. It’s part of the transition of growth and change as each of us finds a new way of life in the new family structure. There are parts of my life that they will never understand either, and it would be silly to think otherwise. It’s just a little surreal. Different. Strange. I see their life as a continuous whole except for a gap that is most of my growing up. Something everyone else belongs to but me, the odd one. It’s like being on the outside looking in, admiring what’s on the other side of the glass, but not part of it.


Pastor Steve said...

I am thrilled that we aren't all "cowboys" because I couldn't stand the monotony! The people who feel we should all dress the same way or act the same way seem to me very insecure.

When I go home I have the same feelings with my immediate family now, but because I chose to follow Jesus and that is very different than how they live. I am a foreigner.

(technically not a cowboy, but a horseman...not skilled enough to be a cowboy!)

Charity Grace said...

Thanks Stephen. After I posted this I was afraid it might have come across as negative...I certainly didn't mean it that way. It just feels very odd. Not bad, but odd.

Billy said...

The people who feel we should all dress alike are communists.

Oops... My Cold War Child is coming out.

Charity Grace said...


Daniel Silliman said...

Though not with cowboys, I've recently come to the same situtation. My parents' lives apparently took a giant detour but now that they're back to normal I see that my whole childhood was that sidetrack, the inconsequential detour.

Charity Grace said...

Daniel, I guess our parents detoured around the same time. :)