I didn't plan on falling in love when I moved to the desert.
Quite the reverse: I planned on not falling in love when I moved to the desert. My focus during my initial two years here was first and foremost job skills education, followed by a time of healing and reflection. And that's it.
Avoid entanglements. Remain aloof. You've got homework to do. Always.
That's what I was thinking about in church this morning, with That Cowboy sitting next to me. He has mostly been a Mormon, a faith that I know little about other than their peculiar choices for underwear, the veneration of the seagull that graces the license plates of Utah, and some vague details about Joseph Smith and the revelations of the angelic messenger Moroni. And, I knew that they weren't very progressive when it comes to homosexuality.
A few dates ago, That Cowboy asked what I was doing tomorrow, and "tomorrow" being a Sunday, I said, "I'm going to church, followed by my other ritual, reading the New York Times, and after that, homework."
"Church?" he said.
And I talked some about my faith, inchoate and intuitive and undogmatic as it is, and the Episcopal Church, and why I feel at home there. There was interest in his eyes, and after all that time in the pews being exhorted to "invite someone to church!" by more priests than I can count, I said, "Would you like to come along?"
And so, my church-going since I've been here in the desert has involved That Cowboy. He asks questions, and I do my best to answer them and to put him at ease about the aerobic aspects ("there's no right thing or wrong thing to do really, and you'll notice that different people do different things; mostly it springs from personal beliefs and your response to those beliefs at different parts of the liturgy").
That Cowboy and I have gotten together a few nights a week. He'd make dinner for me, and a couple of times I've made dinner for him. (That Cowboy makes a great chicken soup with dumplings.) And we go out to eat. On one of our first dates, we made our way out to Whitewater Preserve and lied (uncomfortably) on the hood of my jeep and looked at the stars. That Cowboy works as a sort of home fix-up guy. There's a house in North Palm Springs he's been working on for a while, and one Friday, when we got together for lunch, he invited me up to take a look at the place. I was totally nervous about that. What if I didn't like it? I used to get paid at Wuperior Soodcraft for scrutinizing the handiwork of the guys in the shop--doing the QC--before it went on the truck for delivery.
That Cowboy's work is great. Really great. His craftsmanship is all but flawless, and he has a great eye for design.
And all during that little house tour, there he was, sweaty in his Wrangler's and boots.
He's kind and thoughtful, strong, honest, and hard-working, handsome and quick to laugh. When he talks about the places he's lived--Montana, Colorado, Algeria, Texas--he talks about the natural beauty of each place.
And he has this great dog. A rhodesian ridgeback, bred to hunt lions. I've told That Cowboy that the first thing I liked about him was his dog, since I believe you can tell all you need to know about a man by his dog. That Cowboy agrees that he has a really good dog.
So today, after church, I spilled the beans. Sitting in That Cowboy's living room, I swallowed hard and said, "Y'know what I was thinking about in church today? I was thinking about how I'm falling in love with you."
And things got pretty Molly Bloom's Soliloquy after that. Yes yes and I yes. Yes.
As we sat holding each other, talking in whispers, kissing, an idea came into my mind. It's an antiquated idea, from the children's literature I read when I was a little boy. It's an Uncle Wiggly idea. I looked That Cowboy in the eye and said, "I want for us to have Adventures together."
He smiled, he laughed, his wise eyes again got moist. "Yes," he said. He told me that yesterday, when we were up at Whitewater, I was walking the trail down to the creek ahead of him, and he thought to himself, "I could really go places with that man."
And so it seems, like a circle in a circle like a whirl within a whirl, within this great adventure of mine, starting with a precipitous and premature cross-country jaunt (I got a traffic ticket in the mail the other day; apparently I ran a red light in St. Louis), another adventure begins. And there will, I hope, be adventures within this adventure.