Saturday night, I attended a good ole fashioned country cook out with Gentleman Jack and his boys. The cook out was hosted by a few of GJ's hunting buddies at a home out in the middle of nowhere.
We ate all sorts of things you can't find just anywhere: frog legs, fried catfish, doves, boudin, ribs... I ate so much food that I couldn't see straight. Then we stood around a big bonfire or went inside to watch our fave Louisiana college football team on TV. (Geaux Tigers!)
Right before we left, I was summoned out on to the car port where several couples were sipping Patron and dancing to Johnny Cash on the radio.
It was awesome.
I don't know if it was slow dancing in the moonlight with my man or staring at the kajillion stars I could see on the drive back to town but I was inspired. I felt like the world was perfection in those moments.
Gentleman Jack and I snuggled up with some relationship pillow talk on Friday night. He pointed out to me that he was happy to see me happy.
"And what I really love about you," he continued, "is that you're accepting so many things that have always been a part of you. I think you rebelled against them for most of your adult life."
He was right.
I grew up in that town where he lives. All seven of my mom's brothers hunted and I fished with my paternal grandfather every weekend in the summers. I always enjoyed a good fish fry, camping out by a lake or river, making s'mores in the light of a campfire, and in general, simply being outside.
I guess Jack assumed I was a big city girl since I moved to Big D. I clean up nice. I like "artsy fartsy" stuff like big band concerts in the garden, strolling in a museum or spending hours in a bookstore. I enjoy a good martini and a gourmet meal. I love a Broadway show or opera. I usually have my head in a book rather than in the TV.
I am also learning to accept that I am all those things PLUS all the stuff I grew up with.
I grew up watching football but rebelled against it and TV because my ex-husband spent HOURS watching it. Now, I savor those moments snuggled up in GJ's arms watching football on TV.
I rebelled against the killing of animals as a teenager and young adult. All of my uncles picked on me with their hunting stories only to watch me squirm. Now, I've found a whole new appreciation for the good ole boys and their crazy hunting stories. I now see the balance provided by those that hunt to eat.
I rebelled against the classic cars that my father obsessed over - repairing, fixing up, polishing, showing off. Now, I've found that I practically drool when I see one driving down the road. My friend J has one that I love to ride in - it smells just like my daddy.
I rebelled against small town life where I was raised and got out of there as quickly as I could. But walking down the dirt trail back to GJ's truck that night, I looked up in the dark through the tall trees and saw millions of stars. I saw more stars than I'll ever see in Big D because there was no artificial light source stealing their brightness.
I breathed in fresh air and felt... at home.*
Perhaps the loss of my father two years ago has made me sentimental about how I was raised. There are moments when Gentleman Jack is talking to me that I'd swear he was channeling my father.
Not channeling my father like my ex-husband. My ex-husband was a good model of all the "issues" I had with my father. It was because of my ex that I was able to learn to love and forgive my dad. Now, I have a new respect for who my dad was that I didn't have back then. No, he channels all that I loved about my dad.
So, I guess "who I am" is always changing. I'm also learning that "who I was" has never left me. I can rock a good pair of jeans and boots AND I can work a sexy dress with stilettos. I tell my Gentleman, "You can take the girl out of Louisiana but you can't take the Louisiana out of the girl."
Apparently, I'm a lil bit country AND a lil bit rock and roll.
* And no, I am not planning on moving back to Louisiana.