The rodeo rigs are rolling through town today, headed to the ranch rodeo, and I’m watching them with a growing pit in my stomach.
It’s funny what sweeps you back. It might be a song, or a smell, or just a breeze that makes you feel like you’re suddenly somewhere or someone you’re no longer familiar with. Today, it’s aluminum trailers, slick horses, and deep-breathing diesel pickups flying low through town, piloted by boys in starched shirts and shaped hats.
I stepped off the merry-go-round almost 10 years ago. After a marriage that was longer than it ever should have been, I told him I wanted out and I didn’t shed a tear when I said the words. He watched me pretend to sleep that night. The next day, when I returned home from work, his things were emptied from the house, though it didn’t look much different than it had that morning.
He spent a lifetime in rodeo arenas trying to be the next big thing, playing a young man’s game in a worn out life. When the arena lights turn off for the night, the momentary grasp he had on a glamorous, fame-filled life was gone. What was left was sweaty horses and scraping money together for the month’s groceries and fuel and a growing pit in my stomach, much like the one there today.
Ten years and two states away, I have a markedly different life and my friends wouldn’t believe me if I told them how different I am; that they wouldn’t have even been my friend then and there. So I find myself straying from my usual writing topics in a wild-eyed attempt to keep my feet planted in the present reality of hog barns, paid bills, and millet fields.
I’ve been told that harboring hate and anger is akin to drinking poison and wishing someone else would die. But sometimes the past steps in, rolls through, and leaves you wishing for a stiff drink and a deep hole to hide in. And sometimes you have the maturity and the wisdom to fix your lipstick and go on with the life you cheated yourself out of but won back.

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