pulling a Captain Call

“He didn’t tell him that even when life seemed easy, it kept on getting harder.”

“Well you could always pull a Captain Call,” – Matt LeBlanc, my maid of honor and our best friend said when we told him how upset we were that Basil died in New England.
A place that isn’t home to any of us. As always, that man is a gift to us and I don’t think he realizes it.
I’ve never thought about where I’ll die, because it never mattered to me whether I lived or not. I figure when I die my bones will be where they lay. I’ll be dust to the wind and no one will mourn because they’ll know how free I am. However, with Basil it always mattered. If I could change one thing I would have walked Basil back to Texas, even if it meant walking right through my shoes. Every stone making me wince but my bloody feet would have carried us home no matter what.

“It’s like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight, he added,”
Augustus McCrae.

Everything went so fast and suddenly. Just a month ago he was still playing, running and being the beagle he always has been. He never stopped wanting to play, but by the end he just couldn’t. I wanted so desperately for him to feel the warmth of the Texas sunset on his face again, to roll around in the hottest and most dangerous grass of America again — where we all felt safe. After all. Basil was a Texas boy just like Jack. I do wonder if bringing him home in time would have changed anything, but realistically his legs would still have begun to drag, so I don’t know that it could’ve helped — but we all loved Texas. So it just might have.

“I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice. . . You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it. If you only come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day–that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”
Augustus McCrae.

Those who know me intimately know that I am to be cremated with my favorite book, Lonesome Dove. Jack bought Lonesome Dove for me from goodwill telling me “its a classic and you have to read it.” I remember the day we bought it. We’d had double Daves pizza with bacon and pepperoni, rummaged around goodwill and then ended up in Hobby lobby as we often do.
He didn’t tell me it would change my life. That it would shake every bone in my body and be the worst book hang over I have ever experienced in my entire life.
It took me a while to get around to reading it, because my reading list is from here to everywhere; but I started reading it a few months before we made our big move up north, I read it along the way and I finished it in our first months in our new place.  Six months it took me. We were making as big a trip as they were in the book. It is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Just like Gus — Basil’s legs were ultimately the death of him. I didn’t realize that our ending would be somewhat the same, but it fits that Basil was our Gus McCrae. Because of the two I am definitely Woodrow.
Basil was a wonderful reminder that things can be good and life is precious we just have to realize it. Things aren’t always as bad as they seem.

“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” Spoken by Augustus McCrae. 

A memory that I cherish, that I have secretly treasured all these years is from when we lived in bum fuck Egypt Texas, in the little red brick house with snakes in the piping… where frogs in the yard were the size of a finger nail. The army of coyotes that we lived with sang us to sleep every night and where Basil got addicted to meth.

“The stars in Texas could have been taken from Van Gogh’s Starry night. They shine like crystals freckled across a deep velvet sky and are laced in a fluff of cloud. They bring the coyotes to song and lullaby bluejays to sleep. Crickets hum and tweak somewhere in the brush. When I looked up I was surrounded by a circle of what seemed the worlds tallest trees. The moon danced delicately around; being kissed by stars as it swung by. How small I was here. I was so far from anything familiar. Yet, I think I found it. “It.” What many never find in a lifetime, I found by the time I was 20.
I found me, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find me in Texas.

So here I stand staring at the sky holding his hand: stars rolling on and time passing. Mosquitoes buzzing and bleeding us dry. Texas taught me that freedom does exist you just have to find it: whether it’s riding in the dusty brush or sitting at the bar with two southern gentlemen talking about absolutely nothing. Jack taught me how to find happiness in the darkest corners, how to fight for love and how to make tacos. Now I’m living in a wild and dangerous country, and everything is trying to eat me alive. Its true, Texas made a woman out of me and I wouldn’t change a thing.” 

This was taken from a previous piece I wrote about moving to Texas, and this is the memory that I have been visiting. It wounds me but its a place that I can escape to because it was a moment where there was peace, and we had everything ahead of us. We were three. Though Basil is not mentioned, he is in there. You just have to look. In every word. Every breath. Every single letter — he’s in there somewhere. As much apart of the words as the stars above us or the air we breathed. He was at our feet watching the stars just as we were. Watching us. Knowing probably that one day we’d be ok when he wasn’t around. That little comfort didn’t know how big he was. Truly. That boy could carry the world on his shoulders. He is the tank you wanna ride into war, because he will carry you out. Every time. And he’ll never complain. But he’ll be there. Taking every bullet and every piece of shrapnel.

So as our final thank you to you Basil, we’ll carry you home to Texas. Just as Woodrow Call carried Gus McCrea. We made a promise, and though others may find it stupid or too much for “just a dog”, it was a promise made in utter love. I would do it for Jack and I would do it for you. We’ll take you back to where the stars are so big you could pick them. Where we all were so happy, even through our growing pains. Where we were all so young, so stupid and ready to get out and live. That’s where we’ll all go — and we’ll go together. Like always.

How stupid we were to want to get out and live, when we were already dreaming.

“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.”
Augustus McCrae.

Live through it,” Call said. “That’s all we can do.”

crystal beaches & one hundred pelicans

I can’t begin to describe how amazing it was to be back in Texas for a week.
A well needed holiday for sure. Its been a difficult start to the year with work and the lack there of due to some dick nose giving me the flaccid shaft.
We flew out of Manchester NH, had a layover in Nashville. We were in Tennessee longer than expected. A bird splattered all over the wind screen and so we had to wait for a new plane. Terminology does wonders. We arrived in Houston around 11.00pm having left home around 02.00pm

As i watched the city lights roll  by flourish by flourish in the night on our way through Galveston, i see those memories i lived once upon a time flash in snippets as we drove. Of riding on some moody mare wrongly named “Angel,” drinking with friends in a place that also had a sign reading “Dirt Sold here,” and eating burgers in a black out whilst a woman, wielding half a fried spatular, tells some hick not to miss when he pisses in the dark. The craziest of my stories were born in Texas. And i mean the kind of thing you see in a film like the Big Lebowski or The Hangover. Now i’ve never woken up with a tiger in my hotel room and i don’t hate the Eagles, but i have been in some pretty insane situations since my time in the USA.

Now i was pumped to be back in Texas. By god, pumped like a teenage boy getting his first nudie magazine.
Our first day was spent sizzling in the sun, counting pelicans, socialising with family and wading around in the sea trying not to stand on fish heads. Our second day was about as adventurous as we got.
Back to Huntsville to visit friends, past old Sam Houston and all the old haunts.
We hit whataburger like a tonne of bricks and i wept eating my bacon burger, it was the best thing i’ve eaten in months.
Call me a soppy old boot — i dare you. But you haven’t tasted Texas till you’ve had Whataburger or Jerky from Buc-ees.
…so we got mesquite beef jerky from bucees.

Being in Texas and seeing friends from years ago was amazing, but it was hard. I realised how much i loved having these guys in my life and how they gave me something i’d never had before.
The will to live, laugh and make jokes at Jacks expense. You always come to terms with what you had when its gone.
I can’t stress this enough, but its also part of the growing pains. Learning the value of loving a friend, getting drunk as a skunk on Fridays and laughing at my attempt at ordering water at a Mexican food restaurant. That shit always goes wrong.
From now on i will forever order water with an American accent — to make life easier.
I’m also a little ashamed of the fact that i had two drinks and i was happy as a fat big in shit (not water by the by), but i had my best guys with me. A rare blessing if ever there was one.
Pretty sure the guy waiting on us poured double the alcohol in my second drink after i mentioned that the first didn’t taste like alcohol whatsoever.
So maybe i was a little high on happiness and a little too happy to be drinking with the four most handsomest(?) men in Texas, but i lived a dream that day. A dream that i needed fulfilled after all this time.
Good Old Texas.
Forever winning my heart over and over again.

The rest of the holiday was beaching. Alcohol, meat, partying and beach. Hot sun.
Laughing a lot and trying to get pictures of dolphins, but they really are elusive little bastards.

Ultimately — we had a great time with family and friends.
We want to move back more than ever.
But for now, here are a few shots from the trip.




baby, this is texas

The stars in Texas could have been taken from Van Gogh’s Starry night. They shine like crystals freckled across a deep velvet sky and are laced in a fluff of cloud. They bring the coyotes to song and lullaby bluejays to sleep. Crickets hum and tweak somewhere in the brush. When I looked up I was surrounded by a circle of what seemed the worlds tallest trees. The moon danced delicately around; being kissed by stars as it swung by. How small I was here. I was so far from anything familiar. Yet, I think I found it. “It.” What many never find in a lifetime, I found by the time I was 20.
I found me, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find me in Texas.

I flew almost 8000km to meet a man I’d never met. Some would say I was foolhardy. This is probably true. Others would say I was brave, I was.

“But what if he turns out to be someone else? He could be anyone!”
“He might be one of those lads that sits naked behind a pc screen, weighs 150stone,plays world of warcraft  and eats crisps out of his belly button…”
“You’re flying all that way to meet a guy you met online?”
Yes sir, I did and I never looked back. I will admit to being worried he might run me down to Mexico and try to sell me for a couple of tortillas, but I kept that quiet so I didn’t worry my lovely mother.

I flew from Bristol-England; I had a layover in the Netherlands and from there flew to Houston. It was about an 18 hour journey. This was nothing compared to my terror of US Customs. I’d been a fool to watch programs about airports before i left. I was terrified. I was never easy to scare, especially with travel as I’m very good at it, but this was a huge country, new culture and I didn’t know a soul. If I ran into trouble the closest person I had to run to was a man my stepfather knew in Dallas. If anyone knows Texas: that’s a good few hours from Houston.  I watched people get taken away to offices, some crying and others getting searched. After four hours it was finally my turn. I walked up to the desk like I owned the place. She asked me where I was going, who I was meeting and where he worked. She was lovely to me really. She took my fingerprints, protocol and all. Before I left she asked me, “Ma’am, did you say Huntsville? Sure hope he hasn’t seen the inside of one of the prisons.”
I hadn’t researched anything about where I was going. All I knew was where it was on a map. I like to pretend it’s the dreamer in me, ending up somewhere that I don’t know anything about and learning the old fashioned way; without Google.
I continued on my walk for my luggage thinking what a peculiar but nice lady she was.

Now it was the moment of truth. Who will be there waiting?
This was it. I felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest; that I was going to vomit and cry all at once. There was no backing out. I had my luggage and now was the scariest part of my trip. The reveal. I rolled my suitcase behind me, noticing the men rolling their baggage were wearing cowboy hats and pearl snap shirts, like something right out of a John Ford western. Now that’s new! The doors opened in front of me as travellers filed through to meet their loved ones. I swear to you my heart stopped. He wasn’t there. I hadn’t thought what I would do if he didn’t show up! Keeping my cool I walked through the crowd. I had no phone. Oh bugger. No American money. Oh gosh, what was the man’s name in Dallas? I started shaking but I kept walking. How much is one pound to a dollar? Was the Texas chainsaw massacre real? When did that film come out? What the hell happened in Waco? I have to pee. Just as I was about to stop breathing there he was; this beautiful man in a brown sports coat, white polo, jeans and big John Wayne boots. I would recognize that smile anywhere. His blue eyes were shining and his smile was crooked in a most charming way. Now I wanted to freak out because he was real.

“Hey, baby.” He drawled. He hugged me and took my bag. I didn’t know what to say or do. Its not every day you get picked up at the airport by prince charming in cowboy boots. I knew I was blushing and I knew he could see me shaking. Was he disappointed? He looked so handsome. I thought I might be disappointed, what the hell would I do if HE were disappointed? My poor heart couldn’t take much more. When we got to the car he opened the door for me. It’s a little thing, a Jack thing. Jack is the epitome of a true Southern Gentleman and its one of the many reasons I think he is so unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. That and he doesn’t try to impress me by blowing bubbles through his nose. I was moving up in the world baby!

Thankfully on the drive from the airport I started to relax. He got us lost on the way to his apartment though. He will deny this indefinitely, but he got us lost. He was busy paying attention to the little Danish redhead in his car. Probably not entirely believing I was real. So he wasn’t disappointed! He asked me about my trip. I told him I’d followed a man with a cowboy hat in the airport, assuming he was flying to cowboy country, to the gate… only to realize I was in line to go to India. Not Houston, Texas. He got a real kick out of that. He has the best laugh, you know.
After two hours of chatting and nervous laughter, from me, I saw a giant white figure in the distance. He glowed in bright lights and his head wore the stars like a crown. President Sam Houston was standing on the outskirts of Huntsville. Welcoming me. Well howdy to you too sir!

Soon barbed wired fences rolled by. I saw towers filled with armored guards and bright lights. I wondered.
“Jack, are there any prisons here?”
He looked at me strangely and looked back to the road — like he’d hoped i wouldn’t ask.
“One or two.”
I looked at him a little harder, as I now tend to do when I know he funning with me.
“How many are there?”
“Eleven.”
It took me 20 minutes to find my jaw on the floor of the car. Queue my third minor freak out. Where the hell am i? How did I get here? Did my mother know this? Yes, she did. She researched the place before I left which I did not do. Welcome to South-East Texas darling girl, you’re in for a damn tough ride. I will admit to this day — theres something utterly and completely exciting to me about moving somewhere without knowing a damn thing about the place. I thought Texas was everything you saw in the black and white cowboy movies.

From that day Texas became home to me. I loved everything, everything apart from Walmart. The summers burnt the hell outta me. Like a good girl I’d put on my seat belt, only to be given second degree burns. I found snakes in my living room, scorpions in my shoes and I had a shower with a very traumatized lizard. The coyotes screamed outside my window at night. I love those sounds now, but they terrified me at first. June bugs annoyed me to no end and my love of Dr.Pepper is far greater than it ever was. I love my boots and pearl snap shirts. I’ve worked as a cowhand on a horse ranch and a couple of farms, sailed in the Gulf of Mexico, driven a tractor and nearly killing Jack in the process and I will always remember when I first saw the Alamo.

We married on the 17thof April in 2014. I was never the little girl with a pillowcase over her head dreaming of wedding bells. I was the child wondering what was beyond the horizon. The wedding was never important to me. It didn’t matter. All that ever meant anything was to never be separated. Giacomo Casanova once said, “The sweetest pleasures are those that are hardest to be won.” We defeated the odds together. We eventually passed immigration. I was poked, prodded and tested for everything. My life was put on hold and examined. I was interviewed. There were no secrets between me and the United States of America. I can tell you. I travelled 5000miles and left everything I knew behind. Looking back now I realize how brave I really was at that young age of twenty.

So here I stand staring at the sky holding his hand: stars rolling on and time passing. Mosquitoes buzzing and bleeding us dry. Texas taught me that freedom does exist you just have to find it: whether it’s riding in the dusty brush or sitting at the bar with two southern gentlemen talking about absolutely nothing. Jack taught me how to find happiness in the darkest corners, how to fight for love and how to make tacos that don’t need to be dipped in ketchup. Now I’m living in a wild and dangerous country, and everything is trying to eat me alive. Its true, Texas made a woman out of me.
I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

baby, this is texas

Jack and i have been married for four years today, April 17th.
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

Happy Anniversary handsome.