When I was a young boy, I dreamt of becoming a rock star. Me and friends would act out songs from our favorite bands, each of us fervently playing their air instrument of choice. We had air guitar, drums, and bass and we played like there was no tomorrow. I was eleven years old when I attended my first arena rock concert. I have no memories of a time when music didn’t play a significant role in my life.
As the years went by, my love for music went even deeper. I was no longer infatuated with fame and glory. Music was a living, breathing thing that brought me to life and it wasn’t only the instruments that moved me, it was the lyrics. Looking back, I see those days as the time I began to fall in love with words and my love for them has only deepened down through the years. Words give me courage and a way to express how I feel inside, even when it’s hard to find the right ones to express the inexpressible.
Fast forward a few decades, and here I am in Vega, a small town in the panhandle of Texas. And I’m here because of my love for words, only this time is different. I’m searching for just the right words once again, but not to express myself, but to tell the story of Valerie Doshier.
I’ve always viewed the sharing of my inner world through words as a high calling, and it is, but telling the story of someone else is an even higher one. By the time I leave tomorrow, I will have spent two nights and once full day here in Vega. I’ve talked to people that knew Valerie, and I’ve been to the house she grew up in. I’ve touched the walls upon which she painted murals, and I’ve set foot on the school grounds where she went to school. This is one of those experiences where it’s a challenge to find the right words to convey what I’m feeling inside. This is someone’s life I’m writing about. This is someone who was, and is still, deeply loved and held in high esteem. Valerie loved hard, and for keeps, and she just wasn’t here long enough and it hurts me deep inside to say that out loud.
One year ago this month, Valerie made herself known to me. I can’t explain why it’s me, out of all the skilled writers in the world, why me? I stopped trying to answer that question because it doesn’t even matter. The work has been given to me, and I’ll see it through.
Below is a video I put together from images I took early this morning. All but two of the murals in the video were created by Valerie and Joshua Finley. The one of the antelopes was created by Valerie alone, and the one with Valerie’s image was a tribute to her by Joshua. I hope you enjoy them as mush as I do.
(And because I still love music, I played a little guitar on this video. Nothing special, juts a brief riff that came from how I felt after my time here in Vega. Not rehearsed, one take, and recorded on an iPhone. I’d always rather capture the raw feelings rather than present a polished version only.)