Nobody Knows Where I Am (Book exerpt)
September 4, 2010
Wahoo Ranch Bunkhouse
Dusty, New Mexico
Nobody Knows Where I Am
I met one of the Welty men a while back and struck up a most informative conversation with him regarding his life here. We shared many insights regarding our ventures into the real world; mine from a very conventional beginning having grown up 30 miles from New York City, country/suburbia. His was different, but in many ways we shared the same opinions in spite of his having been born in this wonderfully remote place and only having ventured forth as an adult in an effort to ‘better his life’. In the end his parents failing health brought him home and he was glad to return. The majority of the men he had worked with were toiling for money alone and were unhappy with their lives, he knew better than that.
These days he works the ranch and cattle and cuts wood for extra cash. It is good work, outdoors all day, hard effort but just rewards and at the end of the day one can see what he has done. There is a good market as well and we discussed the different outlets for the various products and the many ways to approach that, with an ample supply he had much to work towards. We spoke of the days spent in the gathering process, the hours away in the fields running the saw, the peacefulness when one took pause. There was but one genuine concern regarding the pursuit; when one is working alone ‘nobody know where I am’. He summarized it with a simple statement, “If I was to get hurt they would be hard pressed to find me as they don’t know where I have gone.”
What a concept in this modern world of cell phones and instant communication, for such is nonexistent out here. The icon on my laptop computer still shows on the screen but there is a red X thru it and no bars……………same as my phone who’s battery goes dead in search of a signal. We are fifty miles from the paved road and the nearest reach of any tower, ground phones are still the rule and cannot follow our trucks. This is a remote place, still sheltered from all that lies beyond, and the dwellers grateful for the isolation. Even myself, who most often carries a satellite phone for emergencies, having left it behind this trip shares the same feeling. My young student helper appreciated it as well as he too comes from a far more populace place. At a given moment we are many miles from the nearest person, let alone dwelling and are at the mercy of our solitude, if we were in trouble it might be days before anyone even knew………..
Nobody knows where I am; I have lived such a life, for years at a time, from my youth in my wayward travels, and now as a consenting adult for I have come to thrive on the distance as well as the ensuing freedom of the same. I think no more of what is out of reach than it does of me, my phone rarely rings these days and my calls are mostly professional. Truly, the missed calls that show up as I return to the highway are often a reason for concern for there are few who would require me in my absence, it is always a relief to know they are ok. How many people these days know the feeling of such freedom and detachment? Surely anyone can slip away for a moment or even a day but how far would they have to go until they might not be found? Nobody knows where I am.