210 elk horn
audio version (give it a listen instead or right click/control click to download)
My maternal grandparents have a cabin in Colorado. They bought the land and built the house before I was born. We spent many summer vacations and winter breaks huddled together in that A-frame. It has endless memories for me. A little over a year ago they decided to sell it. They weren’t getting out there as much and it is quite a bit of work to care for a cabin in the mountains from hundreds of miles away. I suppose at some point there was a thought that it would be passed down to my mother and my Uncle and then maybe down to the four grandkids. While that is a lovely idea (and my two cousins and my sister and I joked about time shares) I can imagine that something like this wouldn’t be so easy- even with a family that is pretty good in the communication department.
So it was on the market last year for a bit but with the bad economic circumstances there wasn’t much buying going on. My parents went out recently to get it ready for the realtor. My mom said it was truly mixed emotions. I understand what she means. I have this incredible urge to find a way to get out there before it sells but I also wonder if I’m better off with the memories. The room up top where my sister and I slept has a drastically sloped ceiling and walls (they were one and the same really) because of the A-frame. There were blankets on each bed, mine was blue and my sisters was red and my grandmother always put them on the opposite bed from where we each slept so the first task was to slyly change the bedspreads.
The kitchen at the cabin began the family phrase of “too many butts in a one butt kitchen” which has extended out to other areas of our lives and only grown in meaning. My sister and I fell in love with chipmunks and built houses for them on the tree stumps. I learned to ski and scared everyone with one particularly crazy pass straight down the mountain (I can still hear them all yelling “snowplow Louise, snowplow!” which is bringing the tips of your skis in together instead of facing them straight down the hill).
So maybe I’m better off staying away because I can’t go back. I can’t sit by the fire as my eight year old self and sing along to John Denver with my mom. And no game of Spades will ever be quite like this one amazing run that my father and I had where we creamed my sister and mother. And even when we get to spend time together my sister and I never quite get the giggles like we would in that little bedroom with the slanted walls. Okay, I stayed with her when she visited New York and the Flatotel is pretty damn funny.
I know that I’m not so good with change. It’s funny to be that way since I built my life on a profession that is inherently unstable and in flux. You rehearsal a show or shoot a film, spending day after day (night after night) with the same people for weeks on end and then suddenly it’s over and you all go your separate ways. No matter how well you stay in touch it will never be the same. And perhaps I am sometimes too sensitive for that. I grow attached to people and places, hating for things to change because it typically means that something important to me is gone. And even if the future isn’t going to be that different (maybe it’s even going to better) or nothing is irreparably altered, I cannot help but mourn what I once had before doing my absolute best to embrace the future.
During the last few visits to the cabin my parents and grandparents have been bringing things back home with them. My blue bedspread is at my parent’s house and I will eventually bring it to New York. Also there were these two small painted pictures in the bathroom (the bathroom with a toilet seat that was ALWAYS FREEZING, seriously I have no idea what is wrong with that toilet). One was a fawn and one was a series of three raccoons. My mom let me pick one of them because my sister didn’t have a preference. I chose the raccoons because they are spunky and I remembered them, I know those raccoons. Now that small picture sits on the bookshelf in my apartment and I see them every morning when I grab my phone.
So maybe you don’t have to let it go but you have to let it change. I think I can do that. Maybe not right away and maybe not completely willingly. I still have my great Uncle Dean and great Aunt Wilda’s address in my address book even though they both passed away a few years ago because every time I look at it I smile. Because the memories are so strong that they override the sadness of losing them, because they always believed in me and their faith in me gave me strength. The things we love, the places and the people that make up the bits and pieces of our lives, they don’t stay the same or exist in some kind of vacuum. I know that. So maybe I should go visit 210 Elk Horn. I can build a chipmunk house and sleep in the same bed as my childhood self. Because we had some good times together and it sure would be nice to say goodbye. There are many times in life when things or people are taken from us without warning or without any time to adjust. So Mom and Dad- you might have to pick me up in Denver on your way there next time.
I hope this finds you well and maybe take a few minutes to cherish something or someone that you love,