Ah, yes, vacation. Every year, the DH and I take a pilgrimage to Wyoming. For him, it’s to keep me happy. For me, it is a pilgrimage: a journey of soul-renewal, a journey of seeking peace and solace for a weary heart.
For more than twenty years, the DH and I have gone to Wyoming, and of those two decades plus, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve arrived in the state not dodging a thunderstorm and still have several fingers left over. I’ve jokingly—and more and more often without the humor—said that in a prior life I lived in Wyoming and I was incredibly happy there. Back when I was married to my ex (lo those MANY moons ago), I was a naïve, inexperienced author. But, I was writing and the first “real” romance I wrote was set in the Wyoming Territory in 1878. Before I had ever been in Wyoming, the hero of that first romance—in the darkest hour—says to the heroine, “I rode into your life with a thunderstorm dogging my heels. Maybe, it’s best I leave that way, too.”
This trip to Wyoming was different from all the other trips we’ve taken. Yes, we drove into Wyoming with popcorn storms all around us. Yes, seeing the mountains I so dearly love moved me to tears, again. Yes, I sat outside of our hotel room that first night, inhaling so deeply of the usually arid land vibrant with the scent of rain-washed sage. But, this time, there was something incredibly different.
It was like an itch in my mind that no matter how I twisted it, I couldn’t scratch it enough to make it stop.
It wasn’t until we got to the property we own near the town of Medicine Bow that I could finally twist around that annoying itch and start to scratch it. After an afternoon of watching thunderstorms rolling down off the mountains, hearing the thunder growling low and deep and then reverberating off the surrounding peaks, and breathing so deeply I honestly gave myself a headache, I heard his voice again—the hero in that first romance I ever wrote. And, I heard her voice, too. So, I took a walk, to get away from the DH and our grand-daughter. Even though I love both of them more than my own life, there are times when I have to be away from both of them.
So, I walked and I listened. Listened to the nearly total silence of this place and listened to both of them argue with me about why I had to go back to their story and write it, again. And, I protested that the way it was originally written, there were very few publishers anymore who would publish a romance with such a plot line as theirs—that he had been beyond callous, even though by halfway through the manuscript, he’d realized what a complete jerk he was and actually made a concerted effort to change. I pointed out that when I tried to write the manuscript without him being such a total tool, it wouldn’t come, because they seemed determined to look over my shoulder and kept on interjecting, “But, that’s not the way it happened.”
And they did it again. He noted in a wry voice that sugar coating the events weren’t going to change the fact that he had been an a$$h0\@. She added that people aren’t perfect and I had already set the groundwork for their story to be told when Colt and Amy’s story was accepted for publication.
I must have looked like a raving lunatic as I walked that long stretch of road that runs through the property, arguing with myself because by the time I was about a quarter of a mile from our campsite, I was talking out loud to the voices in my head. Fortunately, the only creatures who saw and heard me were a few pronghorn antelope, the occasional jack-rabbit, and a couple of prairie dogs.
So, I’ll go write their story. Again. Maybe, just maybe, this time, Harrison and Rachel will let me at least sugar coat the truth. And, maybe by this time next year, Wyoming will also look like the Okeefenokee Swamp.