Inspiration? Read this. And if you haven’t heard of Dar Williams yet, go buy an album and be a good lesbian, ok?
I will never forget the first time I saw you. I will never forget the absolute terror of that vision.
I had been an ordinary woman before I met you. I had my practice, I had the image and expectations bred by the population of the small Texan town I lived in, I had the Sunday morning Mass I went to with my parents. I was also thirty-two and on the verge of either a nervous breakdown or a severe depression. Probably both. Not that that's what we'd call it. Not where I come from. "Exhaustion," my mother would have said, "Kristina's just exhausted, you know, what with all the patients and this heat helps none."
And everyone would nod and cluck their tongues in consternation, Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Friedman and they would bring over pitchers of iced tea and then they'd go to their drawing rooms and speculate.
"No, she can't be pregnant, you very well know she hasn't been seeing anybody since she broke it off with the Richardson boy."
A raised eyebrow and significant pursing of the lips.
A shocked look. "Oh! Well who then, it certainly cannot be anyone in town, sneaking around like that!"
"She does make house calls over at Grantville, why, you know she missed the preacher's barbecue party last weekend just for such a reason."
"Still, Katherine wouldn't have raised a daughter who trollops around in the slums. It is such a bad town, all those Hispanics and their sickness and filth. It's so dangerous, and Kristina just goes there all-alone. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if she got assaulted one of these days. Biting the hand that feeds them, that would be so typical of those people…"
And so they would go on and on and I would get out of my bed day after day and put my white coat on and put my office smile on and check their bunions and scraped knees and check their strained backs and decline their dinner invitations. And then I would go home take off my coat and sit at my mother's table and wear my dinner smile and eat the food and listen to gossip and shake my head no to the latest eligible bachelor barbecue party. At night I would climb into bed and stare out onto the flat expanse of yellow dirt below and yellow stars above visible through the window and in the morning it would be that harder to get up.
But I did it. I had done it every day for the past four years and every one of those days was like a notch on the wall, measuring out time I've done, measuring out time to come but with every notch I didn't feel like I was any closer to the day I would finally be able to stop measuring the time away, but that much farther away from it. I did it because there was nothing else for me to do. I was Chief Robertson's daughter. I was Katherine Robertson's little girl. I was the town's doctor. But I was as of yet no man's wife. And no matter how many mornings I made myself get up and function, I could not make myself do that one final thing. That one thing which I knew would make everyone happy.
My town. My town is seventeen hundred souls. No movie theater. No large bookstore with a perfect moccachino just an order away. But we did have a bowling alley. A bank, a doctor, a veterinarian, a school, a rodeo bar and a church. And plenty of eligible men. And just one attractive blonde doctor in her thirties who remained single for no apparent reason.
And there was no reason I could think of. Why not go out with Hank? Why not accept John's offer to ride his new horse? Why not get married and have children of my own I could take care of? I've done everything else a dutiful daughter should. I returned here after college. I'd let my hair grow long again. Why the notches every day? Why not the final knot?
I didn't know. And I think that's what kept me going day after day.
I think that's what got me to my truck one night after I nodded my head through dinner, what made me drive it north and not stop day after day. I had left. And I wasn't sure I would know how to find the way back. I didn't know where I was. And I didn't care at all where I was going.
With that thought I had finally stopped the truck. Dirt road somewhere and it was getting dark. It smelled wet and, probably for the first time in the few days I was on the road, I truly realized I wasn't in Texas anymore. It smelled alive.
I had gotten out of the truck then, knees almost giving away unused legs, and as I steadied myself against the hood, I heard it. The thunder. It hadn't been that late in the day, mid-way through September, but it was a lot darker than it should have been. I had looked up and the sky was angry. Gleaming silver background pulsating through the quickly gathering patches of black and then the lightening - and I followed it's jagged serpent's tail to the earth below and froze.
It was beautiful.
The hill I was standing on, for that's where I was as I took in my surroundings for the first time, overlooked a valley. And another one. And another one, and with every valley there was a hill, gentle contours swaying under ghostly light of the oncoming storm. I hadn't expected to see that, not the lushness of the grasses and the earth, green and healthy brown everywhere, not the undulations of the landscape, not the promise of the rain to come and cover it all. I had stood in awe. There was no harshness of straight lines and cracked earth here, no severe division between the unforgiving sky and dry, naked land. The sky molded the rises, molded the dips and curves of the land and promised nourishment even through the thunder of its voice. And the land swayed gentle under my gaze, lush grass beckoning the clouds to make it darker with their load, make it softer, make it yield under the rain and arch back up for more.
And when I thought I could stand no more beauty, it had filled me whole, when I wanted just to close my eyes and welcome the rain and breathe the smell of it making love to the earth, I saw you. You rose up on the hill below me, the horse under you excited and anxious for a run, his large white head held straight by the reins you controlled. But you made him stand there and watch along with you as you took in the landscape with the familiarity and love and sense of pride I could recognize in the set of your back. You watched the hills below you as you would a lover, with wonder and tenderness and the horse sensed it and calmed and I knew it and I what I felt was envy. Envy that you, the woman with flowing black hair and a gleaming white horse, a woman I never saw before, were looking at the hills before you and seeing beauty and were not thinking of me. And with that, with that thought, alien and simple as it was, I knew what each daily notch of my life in Texas was for.
But then you turned, just your head, and you saw me. And I saw you. And with the clap of thunder you turned your horse and galloped towards me, the slope of the hill hiding you from my eyes and I was terrified. Terrified that you wouldn't crest that hill and that I'd never see you again, terrified that you would.
Terrified that you would.
And you did.