When I was little, I looked down on people who moved. No, not you know, who could move, but who moved from house to house.
I suspect in that I was a little like say Regency manor families. I was born in a house where generations of my family had been born (and died) and by gum, I was going to stay there. There was pride in that, and also a little bit of insanity. I suspect it’s to blame for my keeping all sorts of weird things: Cloth I’m not sure what to do with. ALL screws and nails. I mean, something comes into my house and breaks, I remove the screws and nails, before discarding. Pieces of machinery. Bits of interestingly worked wood.
This is mostly because when I was little and wanted to do some craft or create something, the first stop was not “Let’s go get the materials” but “go rummage through the attics and outbuildings, because someone who lived here before has left something I can probably use.” And part of my idiotic back brain equates that with security. Yeah, it has to change, or we’re going to end up two old people living in a labyrinth of plastic bins and cardboard boxes. (What do I mean end up. Shut up. We’re moving. The boxes will get unpacked. Things will change.) I still want to keep a good number of things, because, look, we’re going to uncertain times, but enough is enough. So, the truly ugly curtains in this house are going for donation. I don’t want them. I’ll never use them. And if in the future I feel a strong need for ugly material (I don’t know. Maybe I’ll need to scare someone?) I’ll BUY some. Or trade for some. Or hand-draw some on unbleached muslin, d*mn it.
So, anyway. I really never thought I’d move out of the village, while simultaneously wanting to live in Denver and be a writer. Yes, I could have contradictory aspirations. I guess we all do.
People who moved around a lot baffled me. I lived where my ancestors had lived. They were in the air, in the water, in the produce, and oh, yeah, the cemetery down the road.
They’d known and loved this landscape like I knew and loved the landscape. There is a love, buried in my memory. This time of year — last smelled at the Denver botanic Gardens, two years ago — the smell of a certain kind of ripe grapes can bring tears to my eyes. It’s etched in my memory with a visual pallet of gold and grey. The gold of the ripe wheat fields and golden leaves. The grey of the field stone walls and the skies, that foretell winter.
Of course, I was in my late teens by the time I realized none of this was what it seemed to be. The village, slow changing though it was, when I was little, was still changing, and the village I spent my childhood in was wildly changed in physical landscape let alone social one from the one my dad loved and grew up in. And I suspect it had bugger all to do with the one grandma knew and loved.
It was like it had moved us/moved around us, till we were in a different place.
This was both freeing and dismaying, leaving me unmoored. But I remember, and still love the village of my memory, the village that no longer exists, now being crisscrossed by high ways and choked with stackaprol apartment buildings.
Some days I’d give everything I own to walk down the main street, even with the smell of uncertain sewage processing, and the noise of the radio soap operas coming from every door. And if it granted me the right to open that little side gate and go around the back and share just one more tea with grandma… Don’t tempt me. I don’t know what I’d give.
That is, of course, not what life had in store for me.
I won’t make jokes about being really from North Carolina, because that’s where I was naturalized. There’s some truth there, like there’s truth in that type of joke. Because, you know, the place left its imprint on me, and some see it. But I never fell in love with it. Partly because we lived in a blah starter home in blah suburbs. There was not much to attach to. And mostly we worked, and had friends. We didn’t do much that engaged us with the place.
Colorado was different, both because it was somehow my place of dreams, and because we were a family when we moved there. Which meant we did things as a family, from taking the kids places, to finding favorite places to eat to–
Mind you our Denver was not most people’s Denver. I’m forever highly amused when someone speaks of Denver and mentions something that’s hilariously alien to me. “Oh, yeah, x place. That was Denver.”
But we are weird and like weird things. Our love affair with Denver started on weekend “mini vacations” (the only vacations we really ever had.) We’d stay at embassy suites, because the kids could sleep on the sofa and not WITH US. And we went to the Natural History Museum (Now DMNS and really changed) and later the art museum (Sometimes. Depended on the exhibit they had) and to Lakeside, (where if a bomb fell that killed only non-native English speakers only Dan and the boys would survive.) Oh, we also went to the zoo because #1son likes elephants and #2son likes monkeys. And there was Pete’s. For a lot of my birthdays Dan and I would take lunch out and go to Pete’s kitchen. Maybe the Natural History Museum.
Later, as downtown became gentrified, we sometimes stayed in the embassy suites there. And as the boys stopped going with us, we’d go to the botanic gardens to walk, and plot and dream.
And I loved that. I loved the place, I loved the feeling. I loved the seasons.
Well…. everything is different. If not utterly spoiled by 2020, then just…. different. Like a suit of clothes that shrunk in the wash.
The Denver I loved doesn’t exist. Like the village, I can only visit in my memory.
And we moved.
And I feel like an old cat in a new house. My box is in a weird place, and what are all these smells?
It will get easier. There are things I already love. This place seems to have Fall, which Colorado saves for the places with Aspens. It’s more like you’re going along, and it’s summer and suddenly the snow storm of surprise descends.
I used to love fall, and I can discover that again.
I suspect I’ll fall in love with things and settings in this place too. I doubt it will be my final destination unless something catastrophic happens.
I used to look down on people who moved.
The author has a sense of humor.