I grew up with fantasies of urbane and glamorous city life. I knew I would live in a place full of bustling energy and worldly social milieu, far removed from the rural, provincial world where I came of age.
Those fantasies changed, clearly, but I never imagined that the mingled smell of diesel oil, sawdust, and sweat would be comforting and nostalgic until Will walked in from cutting firewood the other day and set the chainsaw down. You smell like my dad, I blurted out, and I meant it in the best possible way.
I don't know what happened, or when, but suddenly I want to wear cowboy boots and go to the rodeo. A herd of cattle huddling in the snow is the most romantic thing I've seen in recent memory. The West is Out There, and though I've called it home for more than 15 years, it calls me deeper.
But I wonder if someone who is not and can never be from here can understand it. I wonder if, even if I tried, I could ever put my finger on the real thing, or if The West is just a set of stock images we all have as part of a collective nostalgia for something that never really existed.
Something's different out here. Something's intoxicating. For some reason, these days, even the cows make me swoon.