I am at the nursing home now. Free wi-fi. I am writing this under a darkened Colorado sky sitting in a circular gazebo. The sun has set for the night. As I drove back from Cheyenne, Wyoming today I thought about so many things, but mostly, my mother and how painful this is — I don’t want to numb this experience with denial. I want to embrace this. Feel the light and the shadows. I will only be able to do this once in my lifetime, so I better be present when I give her a sweet kiss goodbye.
Photo by memomuse -- this is my favorite spot in Cheyenne. It overlooks the Rocky Mountains to the left and those there in front of you are the Snowy Range Mountains. Then behind me which you can't see in pix is Cheyenne Frontier Days stadium.
The mountains are my muse and today I realized even though I miss them so much and the land out West — this landscape and beauty is within me and wherever I go. I take the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the Wyoming plains with me with every thought and breath I breathe.
I saw Mike Shay, a great friend who works at the Wyoming Arts Council and who has helped me write a lot of grants from the Wyoming Arts Council in the past.
I had a homemade lunch with my nanogenarian writer friend, Jenni, who made baklava for my wedding. We sat and chatted over meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top with chives and cheese, green beans with dill — Greek style as Jenni says, whole wheat bread with butter, blood red chili sauce to spice up our meatloaf, and a delicious salad, topped with Greek olives. We talked of babies and infertility and miracles and how babies come when the mama is ready, and being pregnant during the war (WWII), and her moving to Hawaii and being there when Pearl Harbor got hit, with a baby in her belly. We talked about my mother and little tears dripped delicately over this homemade meal. I savored each bite and with Jenni, I am so comfortable. I felt if I was going to lose it and cry, this would be where I would be comforted most by my ya-ya. Jenni is not a grandma to me. I love her, but we are friends. It strikes me strange sometimes that I can be such good friends with a 93 year old, but that’s that. I am an old soul; she is a young soul. We meet somewhere in the middle.
My friend, Shannon, who is one of my people in Cheyenne (I have four — Mike Shay, Shannon, Jenni, and Heidi) only had lunch break available at 1 so I told her to meet me over at Holiday Park, which Jenni lives across from. So Jenni had strawberry rhubarb pie for us and I tried to rush out, but Jenni wouldn’t have it. She invited Shannon over for pie and that was settled. We had black coffee and talked about how Jenni developed a taste for it because during the war, you couldn’t get cream and sugar. We had pie and Goldschlager in tiny little brandy glasses. It was delightful. Shannon left to go back to work and Jenni and I talked some more.
After that, I ran some errands in town. Then my last stop was the hospital to see Heidi’s baby. My best friend had a baby May 22, the day I arrived. Pure light is a new born.
photo by memomuse
I parallel parked on a side street near the hospital and what do you know, Lou Brown, an old soccer coach was working on his yard. He always had such a beautiful, eclectic yard. He was very similar to my parents in that respect. Something that is notable about my long overdue conversation with Lou are two things. He said to me a long time ago, when I was lamenting about not liking Cheyenne, “Always water where you are standing.” And with his thick Jamaican accent, he repeated it, pointing to his feet in a shoulder width apart stance. He swayed in this movement to bring home the point again, as he pointed to his feet and the earth below. I think where we stood today where the photo is taken below, is where he said that to me years ago. Another thing he said, “Your parents not only beat to the drum of a different band; they beat to the drum of a different orchestra.”
A good friend from the past -- this is quotable -- "You're parents, Megan, not only beat to the tune of a different band, they beat to the tune of a different orchestra. Your mom wasn't afraid of anyone or anything."
My father always admired his landscape of his charming historic home. That is something I miss a lot about living in Cheyenne — running into people that know me and my history. In North Carolina – nobody knows me or my past. Nobody knows my parents and how eccentric and beautiful they were. Nobody knows that they were a little kooky beautiful.
photo by memomuse -- although this house is not my mom's anymore -- it will always be where The Miller's lived
Nobody knows our house was like an antique museum with a stuffed lion in the wood paneled den and a fertility mask from African hanging on the wall in the den themed African room. Nobody knows that people would plan their daily walks down 23rd Street to see the landscape and brilliance of my parents’ greenthumbs, with aspens dangling in the high plains air and the many other plants and flowers they landscaped. Nobody knows that I was a star athlete who moved from Chicago to Cheyenne when I was 15 and that I thought Wyoming was the most hick ass place on the planet.
photo by memomuse of memomuse at the Wyoming state line outside of Cheyenne, "The Gateway to the West"
Nobody knows that I lived there for the almost two decades and always feel my most free when I am among its wide open spaces between land and sky. Nobody knows that it is my home. Wyoming and the West is in my heart. I have truly never left. Southerners just say, ”You’re not from around here, are you?” I always say, “No, I am a Wyoming native. I miss it so much.” And then I go on talking about vertical landscape vs. horizontal landscape and how it opens your mind and heart because you can see only land and sky and for as far as the eye can see. I have come to realize that the West is my Tara (for all those “Gone With the Wind” fans – I know I am a fan because my mother and my sister and me used to snuggle in bed on Sundays and watch Family Classics with Frasier Thomas on WGN when we were kids and Gone With the Wind was one of our favorites. We watched all kind of old movies.)
Landscape is important. It is where we plant ourselves and our memories. But it doesn’t matter where we live. It is how we live when we are here on this earth. Thank you for taking the time to read this today. I know it was long and it is just a rough draft of the collection of essays and stories I will write one day. You will have to look for a book someday (and I’ll let you know for sure when it comes out — believe you me! — called The Flea Market Mafia.
Journal Your Journey — it is a beautiful road.
photo by memomuse - "Parking Lot"Photo by memomuse of her shadow photo by memomuse
memomuse is a cowgirl lost in the South. She lives in North Carolina, but gets out to Wyoming and Colorado to open her heart and eyes. She believes this area near the Rocky Mountains and the High Plains of Cheyenne is the most beautiful place on Earth. She firmly believes you bloom where you are planted if you tend to the soil and water where you are standing. Plenty of sunshine and hope from friends and loved ones help too. She currently is taking a journalistic approach in essay and diary form about her mother’s terminal illness. She is calling this series of essays, “Light and Shadows.” This published collection of photos and essays and blog entries will be highlighted on her blog, www.memomuse.wordpress.com. You can see why she fell in love with Wyoming and the cowboy lifestyle on her rodeo and cowboy blog at www.meganoteri.wordpress.com. She told me to tell you — Journal Your Journey.