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
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
Pam 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.