Outlaw caught my attention first as at 5 months old she was 4 ft tall and 105 lbs. Huge black male German Shepard with attached owner on one side named Cowboy. Long grey hair and you can imagine with the cowboy hat and boots, every finger ordained with silver turquoise jewelry. He was out leash-training his pup and this was no silent matter as Outlaw has quite the bark and I didn’t want to challenge his bite. The conversation began as I’d been walking from my rental just a block up in the canyon and close to town. It’s a quaint cozy eccentric kind of folk community of Manitou Springs, CO. Been here 4 months and being slow to pay attention to details, it took me 3 of those to realize there were 12 fresh water soda mineral infused springs bubbling at spots throughout town. The Indians didn’t live here but intentionally passed through for the healing waters. Back to Cowboy and Outlaw, what an encounter. Where is Flannery O’Connor when I need her?
Let’s just say long story short I’m now looking at this framed memorabilia of Cowboy and his 35 years of playing Buffalo Bill in the rodeo show in Wyoming from a spot in his living room. He looks the same as the beaming confidence he emits in person, just 40 years younger. His high ceiling cottage is tucked up on the hill with lots of others all aching for an upgrade and a fresh can of paint. A rock collector and ex-Vietnam Vet with a huge service dog, an internal sound system futuristic, in it’s midst, as well as Cowboy’s built in friend “Alexa”. You heard me and she hears him. Each request he shouts has just a little aggression noted as it’s a commanding relationship in the fullest. She graciously responds and turns on lights or t.v. shows or finds attempts to retrieve a Grateful Dead song for me when that topic comes up in our group conversation.
My visit was brief and just a glimpse of what I get myself into. No harm just gotta shake your head of judgement and accept everybody lives their own life and hopefully it’s to the fullest of their ability as Cowboy is doing. He made it clear they’d honorably discharged him way back before he arrived in Manitou Springs. He added it was because they didn’t want a weapon in his hands. Lol. And the healing he has gotten from remaining within these canyon infused pockets of town and the 14,000 ft beauty of Pikes Peak as our background sky as well as drinking it’s water corresponding vortexes being key to his happiness.
I have this inate quality of making any soul feel accepted, willing, and ready to open their closets with skeleton’s without fear. I think it’s cause I’ve been a nurse for awhile now, a mother for a while longer, and an open hearted little girl for a very long time. I carry with me my empathy and corresponding experiences to share if only heartfelt understanding.
I remember the first time I connected with a homeless person without judgement or fear but with a mother’s love. I was riding the BART busline in San Francisco. My then 18 year old daughter just starting her freshman year of college in the bay area and as such, flying from the nest. Gazing out the window as the transit hummed along, I saw this dirty bearded fellow with his long brown coat and shoe laces dangling standing on the side of the road amidst trash and city winds.
I thought to myself, ‘That’s somebody’s little boy.’ I felt his mother’s love for him. Somewhere, maybe only in spirit.
I’ve come view most of society from those eyes I’ve gained. Years after that day on the bus, I’d find myself in a form of homelessness. I had a car and a seaonal job, but my heart felt homeless. It would take actually being physically ‘home less’ to discover the secret. Homeless people/‘travelers’ have found a spiritual home those with material homes silently seek.
Cowboy and his sidekick Outlaw now have both homes. He deserves it for his service for our country’s freedom, and I’m happy he found it in this old western cross through of a town.