Since I'm a sucker for a good story, I spent the greater majority of my workday yesterday reading Pioneer Woman's "From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." (Don't worry -- I managed to compose and send out 8 new business leases so the day wasn't a complete loss.) If you have time, and enjoy a real-life love story, I would highly recommend reading her blog. After five minutes of perusing her website, I was convinced I had met my kindred spirit of sorts. True, Olivet is a far cry from law school, my only experience in LA is getting lost at LAX while trying to get to Disneyland, and Billy certainly isn't a cattle rancher -- but she reminded me of the life I so greatly desire.
When I was a kid, I always dreamed of marrying a cowboy and living on a horse ranch (along with becoming an Olympic gymnast, an astronaut, a forest ranger, and the next Alanis Morrisette but that's beside the point). At the age of 5, I rode my first horse -- a dapple gray named Cody -- at our church camp in northern Wisconsin. I was hooked. From jr. high through my freshman year of college I spent nearly every summer wrangling horses at the same camp. Believe it or not, I loved getting up at 4am to feed out, spending 12+ hour days baling hay in 90 degree weather, leading umpteen middle, junior high, and high schoolers on trail rides, and working my butt off for next to no pay. This city girl from the south suburbs of Chicago learned how to hitch up a draft team and drive a wagon, correctly file down a horse's hoof, administer oral and intravenous de-wormer, and at one point I could groom, saddle, and bridle a horse in less than 20 minutes. Call me crazy, but there's still no smell like the combination of leather and a sweaty horse. I loved this job and wanted to do it forever.
Unfortunately reality set in shortly after my senior year of high school, and I had to make the "rational" decision to attend a four year college rather than stay the camp and work full time.
Yes, this degree (and the pursuit of it) has provided tremendous opportunities -- I traveled and studied in a foreign country, made the best of friends a woman could ask for, developed a personal relationship with God, met my amazing husband, and now have a decent job in a crumbling economy. And yes, though I have created a pretty good life for myself, I find myself wanting something else. I want more than the 8 to 5, the business cards and the power suits. If I'm honest, I'm not much of a forward thinker, an innovator, or a revolutionist. Somehow in college I lost track of the "wrangler Lauren" and decided that a left-wing progressionist is the way to go.
The real Lauren is most comfortable in her "fat jeans" and Laredos, driving her Chevy, and singing along with Alan Jackson. Though I do enjoy a good piece of sushi now and then, you're more likely to find me eating grits at the local Cracker Barrel. My now husband didn't propose in a fancy French restuarant or atop the Hancock Observatory -- he sang a country song at a line-dancing bar in Indiana. Sure I love being pampered now and then, but give me a tent, a fire, and the open country and I'm a happy girl. So I have a piece of paper saying that I haven't failed in life, yet I feel as though I failed myself.
So really, I guess I want to apologize for not being me. I shouldn't be ashamed of my husband's "American Lawman" belt buckle or my future .22 gauge pump-action shotgun (sorry, mom!). I'm by no means a redneck --I still love the GAP and will sell my soul for Starbucks somedays --but I'm much more homegrown than I thought. And I thank Pioneer Woman for bringing me back to reality.