Ranch in high country Colorado

Twenty Words During Lockdown, Day 19: Dear You

By Pam Houston

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These 20 words were assigned to Pam Houston by her friend, the writer and photographer Kyle Wolff, as part of Project 2020 (Quarantine Edition). She gave Pam and others a word most mornings, and the assignment to write to that world and either take or find a photo to go with it. These 20 words and photographs by Pam Houston are appearing daily in Terrain.org through June 20, the summer solstice.

April 25, 2020

Dear You

You have permission.
To sit in the middle of the floor and cry
To spend half the day reading poetry
To eat all the hummus with a spoon
To rescue a horse who needs a new home, even though the future is uncertain
To move to a country where people believe healthcare is a right
To stay in this country and fight alongside the people who believe healthcare is a right
To leave this ranch
To leave this ranch forever
To be late getting the manuscripts back
To wear a mask to the grocery store
To flip off the maskless dude in the wife beater who puts his hands on your cart and asks if you vote Democrat
To wish him, momentarily, dead
To play Wordscapes in the bathtub
To use up three tanks of hot water playing Wordscapes in the bathtub
To love the absence of airplanes
To order organic Meyer lemons online
To pray for rain and when it comes, to let it make you full of hope
To be afraid of the men with guns
To be afraid of the men
To be afraid
To care about the dogs more than the humans
To start listening to music again, even though it makes you cry

Ranch in high country Colorado



Pam HoustonPam Houston is the author of the memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Reading the West Advocacy Award, as well as five other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book co-written with activist Amy Irvine, Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place, is forthcoming from Torrey House Press in October 2020.
Read Pam Houston’s Letter to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by Terrain.org and Trinity University Press and view a video of Pam reading her Letter to America as part of a Dear America town hall.

Photos courtesy Pam Houston.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.