During college, I came home during summer breaks but didn’t live with my parents. I was too young to be a park ranger but worked for Colorado State Parks. All day long I sat in the little booth taking money for day passes at the park entrance. Every hour lasted an eeeeternittttty. It was seasonal work and paid what most part-time seasonal college students make, but there was one amazing benefit. I got to live in the park ranger house for $45 a month. This was the view from my front yard–in the park. Each morning I made my tea and sat on the porch soaking in the sound and the sun.
After I graduated, there were a few lost and wandering years, but I wound up back home. Teaching at the same high school from which I graduated. At the time, I was outwardly sensitive–even a bit defensive– about this. I didn’t want to come across insular or provincial, unworldly. I didn’t set out to be any kind of hometown hero. It just kind of happened. Inwardly, I was glad for this. Small town though it was, I’ve always loved my home town. Well, maybe not the town, but the areas surrounding it and the people who live there or nearby are wonderful.
Since having Easton, I have been so homesick. I miss the mountains more than ever. So many days, I wish I could buckle him in the carseat and drive up to the mountain park for a shaded place to spend an afternoon. So many days I wish we could escape to Little Box Canyon and spend an afternoon watching trees sway in the breeze. I wish I could drive to my moms and stop to feed the Appaloosas or watch sheep or cows. I wish we’d run into 8 people at the grocery store we knew, and each would share their stories about when their child was his age. I wish I could teach yoga again in a barn.
This homesickness is more pronounced, I think, because I’ve been fairly housebound. Initially, it took me a while to heal from labor & delivery. Even when the bleeding finally stopped, I felt weak. Still do some days. There is also the problem of breastfeeding in public. I’ll write about that another day. There are days I wake up weary-eyed and too exhausted to think of going and doing and facing traffic and stoplights and city busyness or businesses. And finally, we don’t get out because we have much farther to go.
Getting outside is no longer a 10 or 15 minute drive. It’s more like 40 minutes to an hour. And once we get there we have to share the space with other people, probably not the people I was trying to escape, but still. I’m homesick for the West slope, the dirt roads I know, the slower paced life, and simple life I know how to navigate. I’m homesick for finding directions by landmarks: the big tree whose branch lightning took, the rock shaped like a face, the third meadow once you pass the gravel pit, or past the blue house with the old abandoned church next to it.
These days Siri just gets me lost. I type in an address and wind up a block away, but I might as well be in Spain. Even though it’s easier to know North from South now. Need a landmark? The mountains are West. Home is West.
They say home is where you heart is. And my heart is with my husband and son, but my heart pictures us there. It pictures us in a small home with a wreath on the front door and a tree we planted in the front yard. My heart sees us watching as Easton discovers grass with his bare feet in the back yard. Watches us driving with the windows rolled down, a cloud of dust trailing behind, to the perfect place in the aspens on a Sunday afternoon. It pictures us picnicking, and wading in the stream–wet and muddy past our knees, and loading up the car only after the sun has gone down. It pictures us giving Easton a childhood not unlike my own—simple, beautiful, dirt & laughter filled, in a small Colorado town.
Sigh. For now, I guess visits to Grandma & Grandpa’s will have to do. That’s what we did over the long weekend. And since then I’ve been busy dreaming about it & feeling so lucky to have been given a love for Place and People too.