A Step Backwards
By: Selina Boquet
I found myself a new boyfriend. I met him when my friends took me to their family’s horse ranch at the foot of the mountains, in the San Fernando Valley. He came struttin’ by in his dusty cowboy boots, Stetson hat and Wranglers. The veil of dust kicked up from the many hooves of horses trotting around the make-shift arena added to his mystique. He tipped the brim of his hat to guard his eyes from the scorching desert sun as he examined me carefully.
“Te está mirando para arriba y para abajo (He’s looking you up and down)!” my friend leaned over and whispered in my ear. She then addressed my new suitor, “La quieres conocer? Venga! Te la presento! (You want to meet her? Come on! I’ll introduce you!)”
I jumped down from the horse trailer to shake his hand. As I kneeled down to give him a kiss on the cheek, he blushed and swiftly wiped the kiss from his face with the back of his chubby little hand. He may have only been six years old, but he already knew that no matter how enchanting a girl may be, protection from cooties is first priority.
He kept a close eye on me from a safe distance as we continued watching the horses. A majestic Clydesdale was on-stage dancing to the live, boisterous mariachi music. His enormous frame bounced lightly to the beat of the music. I watched in amazement as the immense horse held alternating hooves perfectly poised between beats. His owner rode proudly, dressed to impress in a traditional traje de charro, or cowboy suit. The silver buttons that lined his pants gleamed together with the silver horn of the meticulously polished saddle.
I carefully hopped back onto the bed of the horse trailer, trying not to get splinters in my city girl ass. The height protected me from the thunderous hooves of the horses that came to visit us in-between songs. Some of the riders were not as precise in their riding skills towards the end of the party and the horses would come so close that if you didn’t pay attention you’d get a mouthful of horsetail. Not as tasty as it looks. The excited energy at the event was a drastic change in pace from the slow, easy morning we had spent in the small, quiet town.
Earlier in the day I had accompanied my friend’s grandpa on his usual errands (both of my grandpas are gone so I borrow others whenever I have the chance). Each store clerk and customer we passed was introduced to me as a family member or a long-time friend. Grandpa would joke with the ladies we encountered that they shouldn’t be so jealous just because he was with such a pretty girl. That’s what my Paw paw used to call me -his Pretty Girl. And just like my dear Paw paw, it was difficult to even drive down the street without stopping to talk to someone he knew and had something urgent to tell them, making his rounds the old-school Facebook way of actually greeting his friends face to face.
I loved the fact that the easy-paced town, the people, and the horses reminded me so much of the way things were when I was a little girl on my Paw paw’s farm in East Texas. I felt like my Paw paw was right there with me and that Maw maw was waiting for us at home with her fresh-baked biscuits. It helped me understand the reason why some devote their lives to continuing their heritage and the small town way of life. Taking the time to honor the significant traditions of our family can be the bridge from the past to the future in which our loved ones may live immortal.
Back at the ranch, as I therapeutically stroked the beautiful horses, I tried to not think about anything I was supposed to do that day. I didn’t think about work or laundry or bills. Instead, I let myself drift into a time and place where life is quieter and the rumble of the city is silenced by the blanket of desert heat and the awe-inspiring pristine mountains looming near.
In the hustle of the big city, somewhere in-between Karate classes, nagging bosses, whining kids, nail biting deadlines, and anger inducing traffic, I had forgotten how to slow down and put my grandiose issues into perspective. Hard to believe that one of my worries had been about missing my workout that day, and the next darn day my muscles were so sore from horseback riding that I was hobbling around my school in South Central all bow-legged looking like I had truly lost my horse. As I return to my daily reality, I find that although my usual stressful problems are still here, they feel a little bit smaller; a little bit lighter. It’s funny how sometimes taking a step backwards can actually help you to move forward.