[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Mar 23, 2005.]
This is long overdue. I originally wrote this over three weeks ago, when the Brat and I visited my cousin Judi. I had a math test soon after that, so this got put on the back burner. Now here it is . . .
Judi was fifteen when she left home. I’ve never thought to ask her why she left home. Her reasons were her reasons, and I really don’t think that it matters all that much almost forty years later.
What I do know about Judi is that she didn’t take an easy path. At least within the framework that the “regular” world lives in here in the United States.
You know. Go to school, go to college/get a job, marry, have two point five kids, the house, the picket fence, the Hawaiian vacation . . . in other words, Yuppieland.
Instead she headed to the hills. Literally. She’s spent most of her last thirty years on one ranch or another, taking care of the animals or just doing what needs doing on the ranch. She’s been married three times and has collected countless people who call her “friend.” She makes enough money to support herself and her animals and that’s it. She doesn’t need much else, and is happy to live just the way she is.
Judi is my cousin. Unfortunately, over the years I haven’t been able to see her all that much; but each time I do it’s like walking back into the past when she wraps her arms around me.
I hadn’t seen Judi in about four years until this weekend. About a year ago, after my Aunt Doris passed, she set herself up on a ranch in Tuolumne. The entire ranch is about 2000 acres and belongs to a family she’s known since she was in her twenties. They’re allowing her to build and rent some acreage on their ranch.
Now she lives in a small trailer, and is building a large workroom off of it. The workroom is going to be for her leatherwork. One of her hobbies is making saddles and leathergear for horses. So she’s building a room so she can make it into a side business.
Outside of her small trailer is a small pond with the barn further down on the left, the horse pasture over the hill on the right, and if you look closely you can see the Duckbill Creek running by.
While she’s only fifteen minutes out of town, it’s a rough fifteen minutes, and four wheel drive is recommended. Unfortunately we drove in to Judi’s in my mom’s Mustang. *Not* a vehicle I would recommend for the country roads. In the dark, we got lost.
Now I’ll say here that the person who lives in the city has a wildly different concept of what “just a little farther” means versus say oh, someone who lives out in the middle of NOWHERE. So it’s not surprising that the dark, combined with the very rough roads made us wary of going any further than we did.
We did make it in the end though. Judi’s friend came out and had us follow her. So we were only three hours late is all. Needless to say, we were hella’ hungry. Judi was supposed to have cooked us dinner, so we didn’t eat along the way.
All three of us had beans dancing in our heads. We had been hoping that Judi might cook this family staple. Amazingly enough, the family mental grapevine must have been working overtime, because when we got there, Judi had piping hot beans on the stove waiting for us. Add to that corn bread with real butter and we had a feast! YUUUMMMY!
Now, Judi’s not on the grid. So after nine o’clock, it’s lights out. But in the darkness we talked. About the family and what they are all doing, about progress on my mom’s house, about progress on Judi’s house, and about what Judi is doing there. We talked about movies, politics, books, and just about anything else you could think of. We hadn’t seen Judi in a while. Finally, after midnight rolled around and our voices began to sound sleepy rather than just excited, we drifted off to sleep listening to the frogs chirping into the night. It was a wonderful way to fall asleep. It was almost as if I had drifted back in time, to when I was a child and still believed in the comfort and safety of family.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .