I’ve lived in suburban Chicago my entire life. While I’ve spent time out west on a ranch every few summers, and time camping and riding horses through Boy Scouts, I really am a suburbanite at heart. Some of my friends think I’m weird as hell for not wanting to live in Chicago as soon as I was able to, but the truth is the city does not appeal to me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago, but I hate being surrounded by so many people. I need my space and solitude. I convinced my wife to pick an obnoxiously annoying to maintain corner lot for our house because I wanted like, ten extra square feet in the yard.
For my father’s 50th birthday party we had a cowboy themed party. My father has grown up all over the world since my grandfather was an Air Force fighter pilot, but he never lost his southwestern drawl. Born in Texas and living everywhere from southern California to upstate New York, he’s traveled his whole life. It wasn’t until he and my mom met that he truly set down roots for a family.
I think I get my fondness for being close to home from him. Like him, I only like traveling sporadically and would much rather spend time close to home with friends and family than seeing a new city. New wilderness though, that’s our Kryptonite. Both of us love exploring the outdoors but for different reasons. He likes looking for old bottles from the turn of the century, and arrowheads. I like looking for caves that I never find, and camping. While we go out for different reasons, he’s the one who taught me to love the outdoors. He taught me a respect for animals that I have until this day. Even though I am a sport shooter, I’ve never considered hunting simply for the fact that it’s unnecessary for me in this day and age. I would rather catch a deer with a DSLR camera than a pump action shotgun.
Since that birthday party, I’ve had a pair of cowboy boots. A rich brown leather with only the most basic of designs stitched into the side. I let them sit in a closet all through college. It wasn’t until I got out of college that I put them back on. And you know what? It actually looked good on this suburban kid; wearing jeans and button down casual shirts. I can get away with it, and get compliments for it. Hell, casual Friday meant I wore my jeans and boots. I learned that from my dad. He’ll wear black cowboy boots with his work suits and make it work with no problem. I’ve reached that point in my life where I’m not scared to inject a bit of uniqueness into my style and I’m proud of it. I love my boots, they are comfortable as hell and make that satisfying thud with each step.
Now, I will never be able to pull off a cowboy hat, but the boots at least are staying.