We were cruising down the highway in the afternoon sunshine and you were driving too fast - always too fast - but I wasn't scared. Somehow I felt safe even on those remote Mexican highways - the places where travelers go missing, where bribes are the norm - we were headed to the coast.
Not another soul on the planet knew where we were in that moment and there was so much freedom in it.
That was 8 years ago now and yet this past week you have been popping up in my thoughts – when I relax and smile and catch any bit of a Dixie Chicks song there you are – part of our playlist those few days – surprisingly something you had on your playlist and I was confident enough to add it to our eclectic playlist.
You didn’t laugh at me for my odd and very random choices in music – in fact you smiled as you sang along. ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’ so very fitting on that endless stretch of road so wide open before us.
And your smile – so few like it in this world – it reached the corner of your eyes always and often just the tip of your tongue would peak through your lips, involuntary.
We spent Valentines Day that year together – drinking Tecates from cans in your hotel room and making plans. It was your mother’s birthday, finding my lost earring on the floor – the only things that stand out in my mind.
If you ever had a wall to hide behind I never saw it – completely transparent from the very start. And I feel that’s why you’re here with me again as I pull myself inward once more and connect to who I truly am. Who I truly was with you. You were one of the few I didn’t hide from, I trusted you completely in that foreign land. You revealed that you were unsure of me at first even though you had heard so many great things from others that we both knew – professed that day that you saw it too. I was a beautiful person and could definitely hold my own when put into uncomfortable situations – your words still echoing in my mind. It was a warm and genuine acknowledgement that I still need to be reminded of now and then.
We spent two afternoons on that beach – a long drive just to have lunch, skipping out on all our other obligations to do so but nothing else seemed to matter. Time slowed down allowing us just to be – fully be – with the wind in our hair and our feet in the sand. A perfect escape.
Two weeks later you were dead.
My heart stopped a bit that day. No one else knowing the deepest of connections that we formed a million miles away from home, no one understanding the depth of my pain.
I remember the question I’d asked so innocently over lunch that first day – stories of your motorcycle escapades, the insanity and speed piling up in front of me. “How were you still alive?” and you had no clear answer just a sense that an angel was watching over you, protecting you as you journeyed through this life.
She wasn’t there that day though.
I can still see your cheeky smile and feel your true warmth radiating towards me from some distant place. You were the cowboy who took me away for just a few short days, away from my fears and insecurities, my worries of what the world might think. The song still brings me back, reminds me of my freedom and playfulness. Of my strength and beauty. It always makes me smile.
I feel too now that you’re my angel, looking out for me and bathing me in your warm light. Guiding me to be my best and smiling your biggest smile – tongue peaking out, watching me find myself once more.