I used to be fascinated with cowboys because I grew up in Colorado. Fascinated, not because they meant much to me—but because the Western culture and its Native American past is sworn into the earth.
I took a lot of road trips, day trips driving through the mountains and deserts—yes, Colorado has both. Ranches, farmland, sand dunes, diners shaped like chuck wagons, ghost towns, something out of a western movie—parts of Colorado Springs have long junctions where you could feel miners, bandits, bank robbers, thieves and criminals once roamed…and in my first year of college, my lesbian friend and I went to a bar where people in cowboy hats were square dancing and I was surprised that we didn’t get beaten up for being two dykes who didn’t wanna hetero partner-dance…with men.
I never liked any of this. Just like how you’re not supposed to like eating 7-11 hot dogs shriveling on the warmer—if you can even call that food, or frozen burritos and the salty, velvety, yellow slime you get to pump unlimitlessly on nacho chips that taste like cardboard.
None of this American, western stuff is romantic. It’s just culture and even you don’t like it, you’re drawn to it like someone addicted to bad coffee because the taste breeds familiarity.
But I will never forget the thrift shop I went to in the mountains with my best friend, Joe. Someone had donated a photo album to the thrift store and never removed the photos.
I flipped through an entire collection of the dude (or woman’s?) wedding photos—something that’s apparently so sacred, beautiful, precious and once-in-a-lifetime, put out on display like naked junk as though it meant nothing more than the old VHS tapes of Grease or Saturday Night Fever.
I was saddened and horrified to relive the couple’s cheesy wedding as I flipped each page. I picture a dude, bitter and hateful, tossing out his woman in a mystery box handed off to strangers.
I laughed out loud, amazed and in shock. Why would anyone donate their photo albums with their wedding photos inside? That’s so sad. They should have at least removed the photos.
My friend Joe shook his head. He didn’t seem to be as deeply disturbed as I was.
Certain things I can’t erase from my mind.
Throughout my life—I keep going back to the day I stumbled on the trailer trash photo album that symbolically disgraced what had once been a meaningful union. Was it all a lie? Who cares? But I do.
I’d like to believe that people care enough to not throw their lives and the lives of others away like that.