A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Up on the Caprock, Me and My Baby Ride

I ran across a song posted on Facebook this week by Terry Allen, a Texas singer songwriter that Rick and I love. We saw him a couple of times at the Mucky Duck pub in Houston. He has a deep understanding of the subtleties of the world and his songs tell stories. Sometimes funny, sometimes terribly sad, often irreverent, and sometimes taking a critical look at the way we look at heroes and violence in the world.

But his real songwriting talent, at least as far as I'm concerned, is taking an ordinary moment, an ordinary life, and making you stop and look at it and see the magic of ordinary things. This particular song, Flatland Boogie, was about a fella and his love driving fast across the Texas high plains as the moon lights up the caliche on the long straight road they travel down.

That song brought back memories of a vacation Rickie, Sarah, and I took about 30 years ago. It was our first trip to the Santa Fe/Taos area and we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon on the way there. Driving across the endless plains in Rick's Bronco; Sarah just 5 years old, standing up in the back seat singing cowboy songs with us as we wondered whether we would ever get over the plains.

Though we didn't go to the Four Corners area that trip, we learned about the Anasazi, the indigenous people that lived in the Four Corners area thousands of years ago. And about the mystery of where they went and what happened to them. One thing I read later that has always stuck with me was a statement attributed to the Hopi. "The Anasazi didn't disappear, we are the Anasazi."

Rick and I would have been married 35 years today. He's not here and yet he is. I still refer to the Rockin' RS as "our" place; I still say "we" when talking about things that are being done here. Though things have changed somewhat with the addition you can still tell this is his cabin when you walk in. I still call the garden Rick's garden, not mine. The leather cap he left on the truck dashboard is still there, all shrunken and twisted from the hot sun; his boots are still by the back door.

It's not that I've kept things as a shrine. It's that he is so embedded in this place that his presence is still felt. You would have to burn the whole place down, trees, vegetation, and all to remove him. Even then, he would be here. Because like the Anasazi live on in the Hopi, he lives on in me and the kids. Rick didn't disappear, we are Rick.

We do the things he used to do, we tell his stories, we teach the kids the things he knew. We remember him.

The grief still overwhelms me a lot of times, especially at night when it's quiet and I'm not busy. I'll be almost asleep and the pain will hit me like a punch in the chest and it's clear why it's called a broken heart. I wish I could say it's easier, to give hope to any of you going through the same thing. All I can say is it becomes more familiar and, along with carrying Rickie with me always, I carry the grief always. I'll be carrying them when I breathe my last.

Happy anniversary, Rickie. I wish we were riding up on the Caprock one more time.

"And yet she could feel the pain becoming a part of her, finding its indelible groove but never vanishing. Time goes by, she wrote, days spill on, routines, appointments, diversions, some fun, a trip, somebody sick, on and on, times goes and grief finds a niche, a place, and settles in and goes along, too, included in everything. 'I'm here', says Grief. 'Never mind me, just go about your business.' " David Kushner, Alligator Candy

Flatland Boogie


  1. Your post are so beautifully written. I can see every detail you describe, every stone and blade of grass. You make your everyday moments so interesting, yet bitter sweet.