I love westerns. I love how they make me feel. Like I’m home again. Like I belong.
I can see my dad and brother staring the TV screen down as if it just challenged them to a duel. Long rifles at their sides, pistols at the ready, drawn with super speed. I always loved the scene with Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday, flippin’ that tiny cup like guns a slingin.’
Though I love westerns, there were some I didn’t enjoy watching. Sitting through Once Upon a Time in the West was like iodine to my veins, sick and uncomfortable. I didn’t get it. It was long. And there didn’t seem to be a point past the blood. But I loved the music. I loved walking past the TV and hearing those ancients sounds that sang of a place I somehow believed my Texas home embodied. When the film wasn’t playing, I’d get the record out and just listen to the score because it soothed me.
Strange what we connect with when we’re young. I remember walking the streets of downtown Portland once as an adult and immediately feeling homesick. I stopped and tried to understand why. The sounds of the city. The people rushing past. And then it hit me. The smell. The smell of downtown trash and filthy sewage. I knew that was the answer. I was immediately reminded of my three year old self walking down the streets of Bilbao, Spain with my mom hurrying us into the grocery store of our local barrio. That was one of my favorite days in Portland. The day that gave back to me a lil’ part of myself which time and loss of language had carried away.