It’s been a year since I was last here, 35 years since I was first here, nearly five years ago that we sold our house.
I wasn’t thinking about that, though, as I did the drive from Grand Junction to Telluride. I was mostly thinking about the weather. Totally unfair to have snow coming on Memorial Day weekend. “Linda, that popcorn better stay in the back seat….after I have another handful.”
Snow started in earnest at Dallas Divide, the pass outside of Montrose. We were going up and up some more. Telluride, where we’re going for Mountainfilm, sits at 8750 feet elevation. My home, and the home of the friend I’m staying with, is a thousand feet above that. I had an oxygen concentrator that I always used the first day. Two days until I was good for hiking.
“Look at the elk,” I say, three of them skitter from the left across the road, scrambling up the near-cliff on the right. I still know the best place to stop for groceries–City Market in Montrose, which gives free dry ice–and the best places to spot beaver dens. I know when the cell signal will give out and that as beautiful as the scenery is right now it might be even nicer in a few minutes.
Kept my eyes on the road in the snow. “Why don’t those people have their lights on?” I ask.
“Drive as slow as you need to,” calls Jerry from the back seat.
A couple minutes later a motorcyclist in a rain suit waves frantically. “Darn! I don’t have my lights on!” I always drive with them on at home and so flipped the dial on the steering column. The temperature on the dashboard kept going down.
After two hours and thirty-seven minutes of driving I dropped off my friends at their condo in town. And then I started to cry.
“The kids will come here to see us,” my ex-husband had said, “the grandchildren will come. It will be our family retreat.” I bought the fantasy along with the home, not knowing that the marriage was already crumbling beneath me. We came to Telluride the first time when Jessamyn was just five months old. “It’s worth the trip,” was the town motto at the time, a strong hint at how difficult it is to get here. Babies had to be a year old to go to the nursery at the ski mountain, so I taught Jessamyn to hold up one finger when I asked her how old she was. We laughed when she did it. I hired a baby sitter for one day of skiing and then had a dental emergency, so found a dentist, and got worked on with Jessamyn in a front pack.
The house here was our last joint asset, the divorce was final a few months when it ultimately sold. It had been on the market for two years. The realtor told us we’d make a killing, but of course we didn’t. Sold the lovely place for what we paid for it.
I didn’t cry last year. Or the year before that.
That’s the thing about grief, it waits, lurking and shows up when you least expect it. I try to respect it, like at unseasonable snowstorm, and know that, like the snowstorm, it will be over soon.