over Trail Ridge Road
you’ll visit every season
(finding home in each)
from spring to winter,
Colorado wins my heart
the best home on earth
family’s found here too:
in fires and puffed pancakes
bigger than ourselves
it’s that blue sky range
just past the elk on the trail
that leads our hearts home
In the crook of early January, three weeks since seeing my students, on a cold wintry Saturday morning I shlep across town to make lesson plans with three other colleagues.
Later I will heat water for hot tea and curl in my recliner with a book, wishing I could write a novel as lyrically beautiful as Caramelo as my children wander in and out of rooms, in and out of our house and the neighbor’s, in and out of wanting to be near their dear old mom.
This after two attempts to jumpstart the old Hyundai whose lights I left on in our trek to the grandparents’ house last night.
This after listening to dating tales and math updates and wondering what it would really be like to be a single woman in modern America.
This after coloring intricate books with the girls in the brief time between our latest tech argument and the neighbor’s reemergence.
So is our Saturday, chicken defrosting in the sink, chores done and Echo playing my Pandora playlist to suit the color of my mood.
No dog to walk, no true purpose to the day other than making plans for a class no one really wants to teach.
What sits in the back of my mind is how easily I want to be able to relax. To have a deep and thought-provoking conversation that is justifiably, blood-burningly exciting. To laugh until I cry. To live until I die.
To take these lonely household moments and flip them over or back or somewhere else, when my children were small and my Chihuahua never left the warmth of my leg, when my marriage was young and everything we thought and did was about each other, not some game or book or phone or faraway friend.
In the crook of early January, holidays left out on the curb waiting for a second chance at life (mulch me till I can be reborn!), the cold of winter settles into my bones. The winter of this year, of my children’s childhood, of my marriage, nineteen years in the making.
Even with the beauty of the flakes that fall, their demise lies in slushy streets and icy black pavement, ready to trick any masterful driver, so used to winter but not its ugly, dry-grassed truth that lies beneath the surface.
In the crook of early January, I wait for the sun to rise high in the sky. For the snow to melt. For the tree to be taken. For the hollowness that hides inside this nook to break open in me a new way of looking at the world. For the bend of this season to straighten out into a road I can see, wide and clear and as questionless as a summer’s day.
But in the crook of January, there are no summer days. There are only questions.
as we leave, she tells us goodbye till Thanksgiving,
and as always i can’t tell if it’s a guilt trip or a plea.
soon there will be no Thanksgivings.
it will be just us, moved across continents and back,
moved across town and back,
only to remain while they go.
and i pile it on my weekend,
probably our last getaway without grandparents in town,
so perfectly shaped by a Colorado sky,
so tainted by the loss in every flip
as social media stings me again.
before i walk down the steps,
i remind her of Mythili’s birthday,
our dinner reservations before Thanksgiving.
but it’s another night of tears for me knowing that they’re leaving,
they’re really leaving,
and soon all the birthdays and holidays will be just us,
and i feel the vacancy already,
the gaps once filled by friends
who’ve left us one by one,
and the greatest gap of all
lying in wait,
a storm fit to burst,
a cat poised to pounce,
a weekend ready to be ruined.
and i stopped drinking this year
and lost eight pounds
and didn’t write a single mean post
about my sister, mother, or anyone,
and it’s been ten months,
so why why why
am i surrounded by sadness?
i drive home and can’t dry the tears long enough to read with my youngest,
have only enough in me to enforce showers and teeth brushing
and folding one load of laundry,
and i want so badly to be more than the world only to him,
and i think how fiercely i latched onto him at age nineteen, knowing
even then that no one would love me that much the whole world over,
and to this day, even with that love in every step of my soul,
rejection. still. hurts.
and this is how our getaway ends:
with the waterfall that never stops.
and the road that never ends.