Sweaty disheveled urchins, My Identical Cousin, Goldy, and I roamed a town of 4000 on foot, bikes, skates, horseback. You might remember, similar to exercising?
Occasionally, if Cousin Maven would drive, we cruised the short main street in the dubious Studebaker. If there was a television in Goldy’s house, I never saw it. It wouldn’t have mattered; we had no interest in a stationary box of black and white pictures. We had real life in front of us.
Drama, the kids call it now.
No adult supervision seemed to be available or required; we wandered for eight hours a day without fear or concern on anyone’s part. The village grandmothers could stop us in our tracks with an icy glance, should we err. I wonder, though, if My Mother is hearing this decades old, tell-all expose’ for the first time.
Goldy was reigning royalty for me. She won barrel racing, calf roping, horse jumping, and beauty contests. She rode her palomino like a princess and she shed off admirers like muddy boots. We had no use for lads but we loved to stare at seasoned cowboys in fascinating leather chaps and hats.
Oh ya. Identical cousins. We looked alike, talked alike, walked alike. Until about age 13. Goldy grew even more blonde, beautiful, taller, and smarter. But as the Chihuahua of the group, I didn’t really notice. In the rodeo parades, I was proud be near on the Parade Route; she, astride her palomino. I walked on the scalding pavement dressed as an Native American in a gunny sack right at her stirrups, her soft rope casually looped across my shoulders.
I don’t have any pictures of that, I wish I did, for it was a genetic foreshadow, a threaded rope of Indian heritage hidden in my DNA.
I remember hearing the very Politically Correct 1970 Master of Ceremonies call out into his bullhorn , “Look, Folks, a beautiful cowgirl and her Indian pal!” We were annoyed, but it this would come true in more than one way. American Native blood runs hot in my bare feet and in my nomadic, wearying heart. And as for Cowgirl Goldy, she has rescued me without knowing, again and again.
We invented a peculiar German/Pig Latin coded twin speech so that we could communicate even during a noisy family reunion with the 50 or so of us cousins around tables. At every sunset, we promised each other we would be cowgirls forever, just as cicadas began their noisy rituals.
I have attended the county fair in every town I lived for 30 years, searching for that same kinship we shared for decades. I was poor some of those years. I hungered for those glossy prize winning, carrots, cucumbers, squash from shanties free of surveillance cameras. The farmers would have given me bushels of the stuff, if I had the country know-how to ask.
Goldy, Maven and I can still finish each other’s sentences.Because we cannot be together, we dream over email to each other about The Old Days when we didn’t worry a bit about sunburns, sugar, white bread, listeria, e coli, West Nile virus, kidnapping, claustrophobia, panic attacks, genetic backlashes.
Or cyber bullying. Goldy rides a rugged, lonely, chaotic range. She spends long circuitous days corralling wild creatures with a bitter, loco-weed addiction.
These patients roil with computerized tormentors that we could not have foreseen in the Silent 1970s, astride sweaty, saddled geldings. Now, these prevalent internet oppressors and intimidators cut into her time and energy. Rustlers on wide open cyber prairie, in these years I label the Roaring Zeros.
She horse-whispers the anguish from them; she rescues as many as she can. Sitting at her dusty desk in Kansas, she types endlessly on her worn computer. But she dreams of the old times together and of her ponies waiting in the barn for her sugar soft voice. The horses cannot resist her, nor she them.
We three talk to each other often and easily. But Maven lives in New York City, Goldy lives with a farm full of critters and her own beautiful cowgirls and guys. And a thousand or so patients.
Me? I’m living in selective isolation, still searching for my pony in Manureland, USA.
We must settle for solo dialogues echoing into silence about our good ol’ days. We conduct lonely, scattered monologues to hay bales, golden retrievers, and horses. Within our Shadowy Memories we ride and write of a time when we felt secure just being together. A new county fair ride I recommend to replace Ghost Gulch, since every one of our greatest fears has been far surpassed since our Fair Years.
We can talk ourselves back into a time eons gone by. We have only to drift back to an age where we are sitting side by side on a white warshed plank fence in Nebraska waiting for the barrel racing championships to be announced. And we talk endlessly, pretending, as if the other is there to hear.
it’s not Fair.
Life is only Fair-like in that it is the competitive collection of our finest hours and finest labors.
But life is in no way Fairish. We don’t win so often.
That’s why we must have One every year in every county in the Midwest. So that every kid can get a taste of the Grand Finale Rodeo Rattlesnake Round Up. So they know how to fight the bite in the years to come.