It’s rough starting over again. New group of people, new job, new city. You start off thinking, great, I’m starting over again! These people know nothing about me! None of the crap I’ve gone through, the trauma, the drama, the angst. They know none of the extremely stupidly embarrassing mistakes and bad calls, none of the struggles. But then, I’m showing some pictures of Colorado to my new coworkers, and I realize they know nothing of the beauty of my life, none of the things I’ve seen, the air I’ve smelled, the trails I’ve walked- and I mean that figuratively as much as realistically.

I showed them benign pictures of a camping trip, which didn’t include the maiden camping trip I’d done solo the weekend before that one. And, of course, it sent me back.

The boys were with their dad, so I took a 2 hour drive to Larkspur, Colorado, for the Renaissance fair. It was pretty unexciting. Spent no money, and absolutely did not want to go home. I wanted to go anywhere but home. So instead of heading east onto the road that would bring me back to the highway, I went west, and drove, and drove, and drove. In Colorado, driving was therapeutic. The act of driving, the journey, and the endpoint. I ended up who knows where in the mountains, on a steep, downward sloping, extremely curvy gravel road with only a 1/4 tank of gas.  Did I mention I did not want to go home? But, on a 1/4 tank of gas with no cell phone signal, it was unfortunately the responsible, intelligent thing to do. Reluctantly, I turned around and headed back. On the way back, I spotted a sign for a campground. Did I mention…….? I turned down the road and headed in. Long gravel road, nobody around. It was sunday evening, so by then, the campground was empty. I started at the back, figuring that would be the larger, more secluded sites. Walked around, dejected because the sites were fairly crappy. Homeward bound, it was. But then I parked at the 2nd site of the campground, somewhat near the host’s site, and walked up a narrow foot path into the trees and stopped atop a bit of a treed plateau overlooking where I’d parked. I was filled with that ‘need to make a quick decision’ tingle. I walked back down and walked into an open valley and the view of the national forest around me was all it took. I was sleeping there that night.

I raced back to Lakewood (took all of 30 minutes, it turned out), stopped at a grocery store for some quick supplies, raced home and grabbed the dog, packed the car (as it so happens, I had all my camping stuff sorted, packed, and ready to go- not for just such a situation), and raced back. By then it was 8pm. Got my brand new never used yet tent hitched and outfitted with no problem by 9, just as the last of the light was gone. Cooked and ate dinner in pure, nearly pitch black dark except for the gorgeous, comforting full moon behind me.

I think the foxes woke us at first light. But I stepped out of my tent at 6am or something, and everything was covered in fog. It was astoundingly beautiful. Haunting. Perfect. You know that stillness so many people try to detail? That was it, and I basked in it, soaked it all in.

My poor dog- her first time camping, sleeping somewhat outside all night. It was cold, and she got eaten alive by mosquitoes. (Now, though, she sees me packing the car and goes wild- even drove to South Dakota with the boys and me to see Mt. Rushmore in July).

I tend to tangent off. Sorry. But look how cute! She has her own sleeping bag and gear.

I ate breakfast and we took a long hike. Saw a deer and her fawn. Saw the rear end of a mountain lion as it leaped off the trail 10 feet ahead of us as it was probably stalking said fawn and mother. On the rest of that hike (4-6 miles, I think?), the geography kept changing. It was like every step took me somewhere else. Sometimes I was in the shadow of a thick forest, then I’d be on the very top of open mountain, then in the center of a thatch of wild roses- with the smell so intoxicatingly thick it stunned me still. Evergreens to birch to aspen to nothing. Again, I kept wanting to go on and on and on. That was the best overnight and a day.

I was talking about one-dimensional things and showing my coworkers other pictures, when all I wanted was to tell them about that day, that meandering drive in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, where I was able to find a place to throw my tent together and sleep outside.

Tonight, I dug up those pictures and had to write. It’s my only way to go back. And now I’m torn. I’m back to my beginning, back to the city of my birth, and I’m now, finally, lamenting Colorado. Why couldn’t my years there have all been as perfect as that day? Why did everything have to become so wrong?


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