Memory is a funny thing. It can change mostly bad times into mostly good times. It can give you perspective. It can haunt you or help you. One of the weirdest things about memories is the way they can show up out of the blue.
This weekend, much of the country got snow. In some places, it was right on time, but in others, it was much later than usual. Either way, it was apparently newsworthy. I was watching the news and they did a segment about the snow in Colorado. They showed a reporter on the side of Route 70, telling the folks at home about the road closure and what lay ahead in the mountains. I had traveled that stretch of road hundreds of times. Memories came flooding back as if I had dammed them up in my mind.
I laughed, thinking about how any time one of my best friends and I would plan a trip to Denver, be it for a teaching conference or for fun, it would always snow way too much for driving comfort. We would be so careful, she’d keep me talking and just distracted enough not to worry but focused on the road. I shuddered as I remembered driving home from a soccer game while Daughter and Husband slept. The snow was falling lightly but I was still driving carefully and slowly, and I found my car shoulder to shoulder with an elk. I felt comforted, remembering the seminar that I drove four people to on a day that the snow was actually so bad that our school day was delayed. It was my first time driving in the snow in our new, front wheel drive mini-van. My former teammate sat in the very back row reading the paper, and when we got to our destination he looked at me in the eye and simply said, “Breathe. You drove perfectly.” It was an out-of-character moment of sincere love from him that I cherish.
Countless other memories came back to me in an instant, and for the first time since our move, I allowed myself to really miss the place I had lived. Colorado had never been home for me, just a place I lived. I knew that it was a beautiful place; I took countless photos of sunsets, mountains, snow, leaves, everything. I let myself call it home when I was with someone I really loved even though it never felt comfortable. I always felt out of place unless I was in my actual house. Now that I had left, now that I was gone for almost a year and a half, I was finally able to call the place I lived for sixteen years my (former) home and mean it.
I was and am grateful for the memories of that random news report. I will remember, now, on a daily basis that everything about living there made it home.