28. The ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’ Boots.

Fifteen years ago, my ex, Jay, and I emigrated to Montana. It didn’t work out and a year later we were back in the UK. There are a whole load of stories about that time on earlier entries to this blog – and a My Weekly Pocket Novel coming out in 2014 based on the story of how I got Didcot, my beagle home (see earlier chapter on miracles).

One of the things that helped me while I was out there on my own, trying to sell the café we had bought and to bring Didi home to England via six months in Spain (at the very beginning of Passports for Pets, the USA was not included) was a pair of kick-ass boots.  Here’s the story of how I got them.

I’d just arrived back in Montana after six futile weeks in the UK fighting to get our visa restored (long story). Jay was back in the UK and I had three months to run and sell the café (even though I had no experience – it was Jay’s business) and sort everything out.

The day after I arrived back in Bozeman was a Sunday, so I had a whole day together with my cute, furry delight of a dog who, once the frantic reunion was accomplished and her kind carers duly thanked, just went back to her everyday mode of ‘what’s next and is there food?’

I, on the other hand, was terrified. I had no experience of running the café and I knew that the scent of failure was already on me. People sense that. Jay and I had lost and had to leave. Vultures would start to swirl.

On Sunday morning I checked out the (closed) café which now had unattractively dead plants in the flower pots outside and, inside, really wasn’t very clean. A load of complaints turned up in the week I was back but what could you expect? Delilah, the manager, had walked out as soon as we told her from England that the visa was lost and she was really the only hope of keeping order.

Teenage girls may mean well but when the cat’s away the mice will play. I think the worst they did to chase the clients away (and chase them away they had) was to play rap music and club hits loudly during each working day instead of the easy-listening or classical music we had always used.

But that afternoon I encountered my first miracle-worker in Bozeman, Robin Christaens. Robin is a Texan and she part-owned Montana Health Spa right next door to the café. We’d met before but only when she came in to purchase what we in the UK would have called a flapjack and the Bozites called a ‘health bar.’

This day, Robin, who was working next door, picked me up, adopted me, took me to Home Depot to buy replacement plants. She bought a cooked chicken and made me eat some because protein would help my adrenal glands and my blood sugar levels; she planted the plants with me and became my Bozeman Bestie. That night, she took Didi and me back to the trailer she was renting and crawled through the most amazing tangle of boxes of suppliments, gels, massage creams and clutter to find me a very special gift.

‘Honey,’ she said. ‘You are a wimp! What you need is something to get you going; to get you up there. Here they are. These were my Dad’s boots. You have big feet so they’ll fit you. Honey, these are Don’t Fuck With Me boots and I wanna see you wearing them.’

The Don’t Fuck With Me boots were rattlesnake skin and black leather cowboy boots. They weren’t young by any means but as I slid my feet into them, they wrapped themselves around me in a perfect fit. They were gloriously nothing like I had ever even considered wearing and I loved them.

I wore them for six years – through those three amazing months when God and I achieved the impossible, found all the help we could need and sold the café; the year afterwards. I wore them when I worked peeling vegetables in a pub to make the rent, then worked as a PA in a venture capital company. I wore them when Jay and I broke up and in the years afterwards when Lion and I set up our own publishing company and started pulling the ends of our lives together.

And then I gave them to another woman who was broken and battered by divorce and hopelessness and lack of faith. This had been going on for years and she was becoming resigned to unhappiness.

‘Honey,’ I said to her. ‘You are a wimp. What you need is a pair of don’t fuck with me boots. Here they are. They are yours. Let them do their magic for you.’

I don’t know where the boots are now. I hope she passed them on when she no longer needed them. I do know that she does no longer need them – she is settled and happy. And I’m sure they helped her along that road.

I replaced the boots with a new pair of snakeskin ones. And if anyone tells me I shouldn’t wear real snakeskin, nowadays I get quite ratty. Snake is my totem; I take full karmic responsibility for wearing that skin. It was a gift to me in a time of need and I am permitted to wear it – and to tell my story too, so that others can find the courage they need to survive.


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