I’m going to reach back into the past here, to provide some context. Now, bear in mind I was born in Washington state, and grew up in California. That’s as West as it gets, not counting Hawaii and Alaska. But I didn’t strongly identify with the West after moving to New Jersey, although I did miss the mountains and the wide-open skies.

When we went to Albuquerque for my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I bought a cowboy hat. I also bought a sterling silver and turquoise belt buckle. Those were my Western cultural artifacts. But my Western identity remained dormant.

A couple of years ago, browsing through bins at the Goodwill store, I came across a genuine Resistol cowboy hat and tried it on. It fit. That started up the process. Before long, Lauren was finding Western shirts for me, and next thing I knew I had an outfit.

But I lacked a pair of boots. Definitely not Western enough. So I bit the bullet and bought a perfectly useless pair of cowboy boots. My inner eight year old was tickled. My feet complained that they didn’t fit. Got them stretched. Still didn’t fit. Into the closet the boots went, where they sat and gathered dust for over a year.

Lately I decided to try breaking the boots in, wearing them without socks for a looser fit. That was ok. Days passed. My feet and the boots started getting used to each other. I added thin socks. Still ok. In fact, better.

I’ll admit these boots aren’t made for walking (sorry, Nancy), but I have another pair of expensive, hardly used boots for that purpose. So there it is.

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