Finding my Inner Cowgirl


Now that is a vacation.

by Cherri Ellis

The funny thing about writing for a magazine: I am always projecting myself into the future or the past. If I’m not dredging up some memory for re-evaluation, I’m trying to make a deadline for an issue that will hit the stands the following month. That explains why I now find myself 30 thousand feet in the air writing about my wishes for the New Year when I haven’t even survived the holidays yet.

I am returning from a trip to Austin and San Antonio, two cities that so charmed me I have now not just embraced my inner cowgirl—I have clinched her in a full body hug and am squeezing the life out of her.   She wasn’t going to emerge initially, but kindly bartenders kept coaxing her out with Tequila until she finally made her appearance. Once she joined us, she turned out to be a bossy little filly, making me buy Laredos boots and then insisting that they actually match everything I own. I am wearing them as I type, and if I may say, they do add a little swagger. I am hoping that whenever I wear them, their leather smell and perfect heel and ornate stitching will transport me back to how I feel right now post-travel…simultaneously charged with the adventure of new experience and happy to be returning home to the warmth of the familiar.

This morning, during my crazy early layover in Dallas, I was robotically moving with the masses in the McDonalds line to get some badly needed coffee. I was Dawn- of-the-Dead tired, and when I saw an open bench against the terminal wall, I stepped out of the queue and made a beeline for it. While my conscious self said “No, Cherri, adult women do not lay down in public places, my exhausted body was all in. I started positioning itself in a way that I hoped would prevent me from exposing myself too much. I lay down on my side, wrapping my legs around my carry-ons and covering them with my jacket. I then perfected the look by balancing my cell phone across my eyes to block out the light. Pride was trumped by fatigue, and I was asleep.

I awoke to the sound of my own voice coming through the loud speakers. Thinking I was dreaming, I didn’t move until I heard it again. It was indeed me in my most friendly yet authoritative tone of voice, instructing travelers where to proceed to the baggage area and other pertinent airport instructions. It was a voice-over that I had recorded at the famed Boutwell Studios in Homewood maybe 15 years ago and then never thought about again. Unbeknownst to me, I have been the voice of the Texas Love Field airport all these years. I sat up and started laughing at the contradiction of my current disheveled state to that of the upbeat and self-assured person the voice on the loudspeaker seemed to suggest.

Everyone knows that vacations are supposed to be fabulous, and re-entry to life as we know it will be initially a ball bat to the head. We are psychologically put together in such a way that even the very best vacation or holiday is followed by a vague sinking feeling that it’s over, but the transition is worth it. It is life’s little rhythms that allow vacation to exist. We pile up our experiences and carry them with us forever, so now Austin and San Antonio are in me. They are no longer cities in Texas. They are ridiculous levels of hospitality from the world’s cutest couple, funky food trucks that serve gourmet food, and bitching new cowboy boots. They are feeling the wind lift your hair while watching rowers cut backwards down Lady Bird Lake from the Congress Street Bridge above. They are the taste of a really, really good margarita at an hour of the day when you typically would not be drinking tequila. They are the chilling feeling of standing in the Alamo right where the patriots’ own cannons were turned on them. Austin and San Antonio are sense memories now, mine to keep.

I should note that travel euphoria does not extend to those left at home. I may never forget the sound of my husband’s voice when he called one afternoon. It was Day Three of cowboy boot shopping with my girlfriend, and I happily blurted out, “I just tried on thousand dollar boots!”  There was a long pause, and then he quietly asked,“You did take them off, didn’t you?”

It is on this pink cloud that I sail into 2013. The year itself just cries out for a slogan, so I’m thinking “Be Serene in Twenty Thirteen.” The peaceful little phrase “Be Serene” won out over the other leading contenders like “Fit and Lean” (too much pressure) “Act Obscene” (too easy to accomplish) and my personal favorite “Dance Like Ben Vereen” which makes me smile but is rhythmically all wrong.

Let’s all have a great year. Come hell or high water, I am going to be serene in 2013. When I get gripped up over life’s tumult, I’m gonna ask my inner cowgirl what to do and then I’m gonna do it.

It is a safe plan. She’s pretty bossy about my well-being.

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One Response to “Finding my Inner Cowgirl”

  1. Jon Gentile says:

    That’s Right…You’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway. (Lyle Lovett song)

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