I own high heels. They live right next to my cowboy boots. Well actually, they live above my cowboy boots on a shelf but you know what I mean. On paper, I am probably not a person who would own, like or wear high heels, but I do.
At just a shade over six foot tall, I certainly don’t need high heels to close the height gap between me and my cowboy. I’m taller than him standing barefoot (sorry babe, but it’s true), a fact that he has come to terms with, and thus refuses to wear a roper heel for fear of losing the extra half inch a horseman heel gives him. I am also lucky enough to have size 11 feet. That’s all fine and well, after all I am tall but isn’t it kind of a cruel joke that I also have an extremely high instep. Don’t even get me started about how challenging shoe shopping is for me. It’s tough – though finding the perfect pair of heels that fit and aren’t totally excruciating (like the bright yellow, four inch wedges I found this spring) makes it all ok for a while. But this whole story isn’t about shoe shopping – I’ll put that in Things Cowgirls Love later.
Three years ago I met a guy… at a bar. A cowboy, dressed in Wranglers, boots and a starched Ariat plaid shirt. He was clean shaven and smelled of leather and soap. I was wearing baggy jeans and slippers that looked like shoes, but were actually slippers. I had my hair twisted into a messy bun and my attitude was less than friendly. I had just waded through a torturous breakup, which was soon followed by another messy breakup. Needless to say, my sparkle was a bit clouded.
I was in limbo, somewhere between starving for adventure and culture anywhere but in my hometown and resigning to living in my parents barn. No really, I was literally living in my parent’s barn. Who in the hell was I? Who did I want to be like? Seemed to me there were two options: cowgirl or citygirl. Like being a cowgirl was something you could quit, or being “city” was a color of lip gloss. Cowboy boots or high heels.
The best way to describe me back then was “discontent”, with everything. I would love to say that meeting Cowboy that evening in Livingston instantly contented me and everything was pink roses, but contentment for me was so much more complicated. While wearing my cowboy boots was so much more comfortable and natural for me, those dang high heels were so sexy and exotic. This mirrored every aspect of my life: the familiarity and beauty of home or the excitement and chic-ness of the city, faded jeans with stains or pressed suit pants and cashmere, dirty Ford truck or sleek black luxury car.
Finally, citygirl in me won, or so I thought. I left Montana and my cowboy for the big city with big plans. It wasn’t very long before I realized I was not wearing suits and high heels everyday, and there was not a single stitch of cashmere in my closet. And although shiny and red, I was still driving a Ford truck. The city turned out not to be very chic. Or exciting. Every spare second I was escaping out of the city to a family friend’s house to ride, or at least to smell horses. I was wearing my faded jeans and cowboy boots, seeking out any rodeo, western bar, and horse barn within two hours of my tiny condo.
And then there was the Cowboy I left in Montana. I loved him but I knew when I left Montana, that it may not last between us. Either one or both of us might find someone else. He was not (ever, ever) going to move to the city and I was too proud and independent to imagine staying in Montana just for a man. Hell no. But things changed for me. As I sat in stand still bumper to bumper traffic, high heel shoes off and country music cranked up, it struck me like a bolt of lightning. I want to be with Cowboy, on a ranch in Montana. I want to be close to family and friends. If I stay here, that’s never gonna happen. All of a sudden, it was okay that I wanted to share a cowgirl life with Cowboy, to carve out my place in Montana. And so I left. Within 10 days, I quit school, quit my job, broke the lease on my apartment, packed what I could fit on the back of my truck, sold or gave away what I couldn’t, put on my cowboy boots and headed north. I stopped in Las Vegas to meet up with my family for the NFR but thats a different story.
As I left Vegas heading back to Montana, I could barely contain my excitement. I was going home. Did I have a job? No. Did I have a money? Definately no. Would I probably have to live in my parents’ barn again? Yeah. 13 hours later I pulled into Cowboy’s driveway, my little truck dwarfed between his big F-350 and a horse trailer. As I checked my reflection in my rear-view mirror, I got nervous. What if things had changed between us? We hadn’t talked about being more serious. A million worries swirled through my mind. Nervous energy and Red Bull made my hands shake as I tried to put on mascara and chapstick, a weak attempt to salvage my face after a weekend of partying and cross country travel. All of sudden, my car door opened and I was pulled into Cowboys arms. I didn’t go back to my parent’s barn. We both knew where I belonged.
Fast forward to today, Cowboy and I are married, living on the ranch in Montana, and I am continuing to carve out my place in Montana. I no longer feel the need to hide the cowgirl part to feel successful. On any given day, I wear cowboy boots to gather cows and then meet the girls in town, in high heels. This is my version of a balanced life. I have finally accepted that I am passionate about Montana, about ranching and the cowboy lifestyle, about my cowboy husband and about sharing that passion with other people. Am I every going to make a bunch of money or get a ton of recognition for these things? Truth be told, I don’t have all that figured out, I’m just finally at the point that I don’t care about the “whos” or “whats” but the “feels” are infinately more important. My point: you can be both, you can have all that you choose to have. My high heels and my cowboy boots live in harmony.
“A cowgirl is not a western woman. A cowgirl is a spirit. She might be a business woman in Manhattan, but she has an inner quality that allows her to do something for no one else’s reasons but her own…”