Me and Billy The Kid

Me and Billy The Kid never got along.  Billy could shoot offenses like a six gun on fire.  He rode lazy in the saddle because he finished his milk with whiskey.  His hair was hacked with a knife and his eyes were always wild.  He loved to brag about how many rules he broke.

This bored me because it was easy for a man to break rules.  First, they didn’t have very many.  Second, they were only judged by men.  Even the hoop skirted women tossed their shoulders back in fake disgust at Billy’s appalling behavior.  Women were judged by men, ladies, and God as translated by his disciples: more men.

On my thirty seventh birthday, I wore a pair of stolen trousers.  I took my braids out and let my hair unravel below my breasts.  No corset, no collar, I stole his shirt.  I stole his hat.  And then I stole his horse.  I slit the saddle off and left it beside him while he slept.  I slugged back three swirls of whiskey and spilt his milk so he would have something to cry about.  I rode off under the strawberry moon.

I love to ride.  It’s freedom from eyes who have opinions.  It’s being alive.  It’s being lost.  Because you can’t really be found or discovered if you aren’t lost.  I grew to love being lost. Stability was mundane.  Expectations clung like thistles to my skirt.  Thistles didn’t cling to trousers and boots did nicely to squish anything rancid underfoot.

I hated the word pardon and Billy never made me say it.  He could never make me do anything.  I could never make him do anything.

I suppose that’s why we always got along.

But, No. It isn’t.

“It’s just running!” She says with an eye roll and lip.  There are other things in life like art, family, food, war, poverty, disease, birth, pets, sunsets, tequila, sex, music, coffee, hockey, yoga, education, patents, sunscreen, death, laughter, guns, tattoos…survival.  Life.

“It’s only running!” She scolds.  There are other things in life like Women’s rights, Gay rights, health care, Animal rights, affirmative action, environmental law, Veterans, Big Brother, spam, taxes, martini’s, credit cards, dental bills, after school care, volunteering, homelessness….survival.

People pour themselves into different things that we all just cannot possibly understand.  Is there any sense in the obsession over a black jack table?  Wearing a cheese on one’s head while cheering?  Spending twenty hours a day on a trading floor?  Getting lost in the Amazon?  Singing opera in Rome?  Climbing K2?  Driving at Nascar?  Reading a really delicious novel?  Spending a young life devoted to dancing in the New York Ballet?

Does any of this fit into survival?  Does painting?  Designing?  Celebrating?  The entire point to life is not survival.  It isn’t just running.  It’s freedom.  It’s youth.  It’s thought, taste, love, air, light and sweat.  It’s pure pleasure spiked with pain.

Nothing lasts forever, but it is never just running.  Believe in the run.