As I drove back home to Dallas from my Lakes of the Ozark adventure with my friend Sherri from @shortyoutfront, I decided to open up my mobile podcast app and record a few notes. We had so much fun in such a short period of time, and I wanted to get some of the antics committed to digital before I lost them to the depths of my feeble mind. We chillaxed and enjoyed the reunion of family and friends. We were all getting a little stir crazy with Safer at Home measures, illness, loss, and millions now jobless. 2020 has certainly taken its toll. It’s given us all opportunity for pause and reflection, thinking about those things we’ve rejected, neglected, or avoided prior to the big break.

I used the stay-at-home orders to take a thoughtful and compassionate review of the things for which I am eternally grateful. After a few rough years, things are actually looking up and headed in the right direction. Slaying demons is a real thing, and leveling up to take the time to review what and who I wanted in my life became a priority. Dealing with traumas and past hurts are never easy to do, but COVID-19 has really provided the time and opportunity to put a lot of things in the rear-view mirror.

To celebrate those reflections, Sherri and I broke away to enjoy some fun in the sun and got to do a lot of, ahem, interesting things. We spent a day on the water with Sherri’s sister Carmen, who is definitely a boat captain extraordinaire and a serious hostess with the mostess. We also didn’t waste the opportunity to give Carmen’s husband Stan a little trouble (and those two twisted sisters gave him the scare of a lifetime! Sorry I missed that! #napping). We picked up hamburgers from the shrimp joint (word to the wise, not really recommended by one of the naysaying lake locals, but we gotta say that it was the best damned hamburger we’ve ever had!). We spent a day at Shorty Pants Entertainment; an off-the-beaten path lake bar and grill that we couldn’t resist trying (just the name said, “Come on let’s go mix some stuff up!”). We enjoyed our outdoor cafe lunch, watching the jet skis and boats come in and out of the cove.

As I was packing up on my last morning, Sherri walked into my room and said, “OK, grab your cash, we’re going up to the office to get you checked out and check something off your bucket list.” Sherri did only what my BFF could do: she arranged for us to have a couple of hours with the standup paddle boards. I giggled, ”I’m in.” We grabbed our jackets, paddles, signed the waiver, and back down the hill we went. If there was ever a time when we really needed a producer to follow us around to film our mischief, this lake-life weekend was it!

The girls at Shorty Pants proactively suggested this as we sauntered through the retail area of the establishment, pointing out all the “Shorty” gear we wanted to add to our collection. Our hostess, Regan, and her crew remarked that they thought we should have our own television show and commented that they really liked my outfit, a monochromatic shirt and pants topped with my trusty (read: old) turquoise cowgirl hat, which I haven’t worn in years! The girls called it “a little pop of color.” This stuck with me as we drove back to our cabin. I’ve had this hat for almost 25 years, and it’s not the first time it’s been the central topic of conversation. I opted not to wear it back out to the lake that day because I strangely became attached to it and didn’t want to ruin it; that hat gave me pause.

Fifteen years ago, when my children and I were moving  into my current home, I was dating a guy we will call Rudy. Rudy found my “little pop of color” in my things and said, “What the hell is this?” I laughed and said that it was just something that I picked up in Fort Worth when I went to the stockyards years ago with a friend who was visiting from Seattle. Rudy didn’t like it. In fact, he hated that hat. It stuck with him and bothered him for years. I never understood why.   

One particular day, on our way back home from Fort Worth, Rudy and I were discussing the interesting meal options we encountered at our chosen restaurant. Some “varmints” really shouldn’t be plated (that’s the city slicker in me talking), and the mood in the car suddenly changed. He became visibly nervous and pulled over. I asked him if he wanted me to drive. He said no, but with big tears he looked at me and said, “Someday, you’re going to leave me and you’re going to fall in love with a cowboy.” I distinctly remember how dumb that sounded at the time. In fact, I said it was the dumbest thing he’d ever said. Hell, I didn’t even like country music! He disagreed as he white knuckled the steering wheel and put the blinker back on and returned to our route home. Again, I thought this was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard and discounted it.

Fast forward several years later, we did break up, and I’ve only recently finished cleaning out (thank you 2020!) all of the closets, storage, and attic space to clear away the past and remove the remaining reminders of that relationship (and I tossed out the rest of the junk that was left behind!). I hadn’t thought about that discussion until that weekend, and it’s given me quite a lot to think about. Was he really off base, or did Rudy really know me better than I knew myself? 

Those were the questions that I was pondering as I stood resolute in the middle of my paddle board on the Lake of the Ozarks. I was contemplating what kind of partner I really wanted in my life and realized that he was absolutely right. While I have enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a “corporate” city life for the past 30 years, I have forgotten that I love the outdoors, wide open spaces, hiking, biking, bonfires, THE LAKE, and yes now I love the stand-up paddle board. I love being on the water, walking through the woods, and finding new trails. As I look back on my split with Rudy, I realize that he was predicting a shift in me that I had not seen coming. I would eventually change course and move toward the life he envisioned. As I think back to the time that I’ve spent in Fort Worth, I now recognize that I felt more at home there then I ever really have in Dallas. Maybe it’s time. Time to relocate to Fort Worth and time to find a cowboy.  

So, I’m going to start a quest to transition my life to Fort Worth. I hope he’s patient. I hope he’s little mischievous but also sweet, and I hope he has the temperament to put up with me; he’s going to need it. I hope he holds my hand in public. I hope he kisses me often, holds me when I’m cold, protecting me like I’m gold, and defends me to all “enemies,” both foreign and domestic. I hope he becomes my best (soul) friend. 

Rudy was right. There is something about a cowboy that I just cannot deny. I turn my head every time. While on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be any common ground, when you peel back the covers, we are carved from the same adventurous spirit and share very deep common values. Saddle up, Fort Worth. I’m coming home.  Oh, Sherri will need her own room. ?

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