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Twenty-One:

She’s just twenty-one, but she’s living my story except by twenty-one I was preparing to deliver my first child, no party with booze as a signpost to adulthood possible because my big belly was right of passage enough and all I wanted to do was go to bed early.

She’s just twenty-one but she’s in love with living on a cow camp without electricity, couldn’t give a shit about television, tells me about heaven-on-earth where if she isn’t horseback she’s hiking over the hills and finding turquoise beads and matates and ruins and pottery.

She’s just twenty-one but she thinks that in order to live on the ranch, surrounded by the land, the lifestyle, the animals, even her dogs, she has to sleep with him, the loser who doesn’t have a pot to piss in or a vehicle of his own and he’s twenty-nine, going from camp job to camp job on the big outfits, oblivious to his reputation as a fiddle-footed, less-than-reliable fuck-up who is a little bit mean when he is drunk.

She’s just twenty-one, but she faces the hard cold facts that if she leaves him, she has to sell her horses, leave behind the horses that belong to the ranch, find a place to keep her dogs, and find a job in town, maybe Starbucks, or the vet hospital, or at the horse training facility where every horse crazy teenager is applying to shovel shit and ride around in circles in the arena.

She’s just twenty-one, but she thinks maybe she will approach the ranch manager and ask if her job is secure if she isn’t part of a package deal, if maybe she can live in the bunkhouse, if maybe she can just find a fifth-wheel to live in and still run their horse program, if maybe they will overlook her sex and write her a paycheck on her own merits.

She’s just twenty-one, but I wish she was sleeping alone because I know the story of trading sex and laundry and meals for a lifestyle that has its hooks in your heart, and its too late when the line on the stick turns pink.

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