Sophistication in the West

Jessica Faunt

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 – El Cornado Ranch, AZ

El Cornado Ranch is so expansive, it’s impolite to ask the owners for it’s exact acreage.  Out here, property and cows are the measure of one’s wealth.  However, the couple who own the ranch aren’t interested in comparisons of their prosperity to other ranchers.  Instead, they devote their land to conservation efforts, mostly by way of stream restoration and recharging the water table-a valiant effort in the Southwest.

Though while staying here we have been camping outside, last night we were invited to eat dinner up at the ranch house.  I woke up from my nap just in the nick of time to make it to the meal; however, up on arrival I discovered that I had missed an important memo during my slumber: this is formal event.  Though not necessarily dressed inappropriately, there was a clear difference between my Bill Crosby sweater and “Ghouls Night Out” socks compared to the lipstick and floor length dress the Westie next to me was wearing.

And the house called for such sophistication.  I felt like a sore thumb surrounded by the frivolity of modern luxuries.  The kitchen floor had ample space and utilities, there was a library with a ladder that rolled across the shelves, and mounted animal heads, famous paintings, and pueblo artwork was displayed on the walls.  I had never been surrounded by such material wealth (although this perception was undoubtedly amplified by the rather simple lifestyle this trip demands).

But maybe I was less in awe of the material things and more in shock of how I reacted.  My peers donned elegance I didn’t know could be packed in our bags and looking different in my Halloween-themed footwear made me self-conscious. I’m not saying that sophisticated and beautiful things are inherently wrong, it just seemed so out of place after traveling through the desert.  It makes me wonder who I will be when I go home.  Will my newly kindled desire to stop unnecessarily apologizing for my appearance be masked by society’s pressure to look a certain way?  Will adventure and curiosity be masked by properness and stability?  I don’t want it to happen that way.  I guess I’m most concerned that it’s not completely in my control.

Unfortunately, as many memories as the Ghoul socks now hold, they probably won’t make it out of Arizona.  An adventure to the top of a Sky Island this afternoon has left them riddled with seed heads that no washing machine will remove.  I may have to invest in a new pair.  I was pretty fond of those socks.  Even the fanciest of homes could use some childlike humor to keep us in check.