When I was nineteen I moved to Boulder, Colorado, to live with one of my sisters who couldn’t find a roommate, so she asked if I would move out there, find work, and help her pay her rent until the lease was up and she could move back east. I was only out there for six months, but it was quite the journey for me. We lived near the Flatirons, on Baseline Road. My sister worked for the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I found office work about a week after I arrived.
Boulder is a beautiful city and my sister and I had a lot of fun doing things like walking around the Pearl Street Mall, and frequenting The Dark Horse, a really cool bar and restaurant just down the road from where we lived.
Our apartment complex had a pool and I taught a few of the younger kids who lived there how to do flips off the diving board. I remember one girl, Michelle, who was about ten, flipped too close to the board and slammed her head on it. What an awful moment that was. I think she got a concussion and came through it alright, but I stopped teaching anyone how to flip after that. Michelle became one of my constant companions when I was home, and even though she was a kid, I was emotionally immature enough that we got along well. I think of her now and then and wonder how her life has turned out. I hope she has had (and is having) an amazing life.
My sister made plans to visit her best friend in Seattle, who was about to have a baby, and I told Michelle that she could come to the airport with us to see my sister off. I had made friends with a few people from work and they were going to see Jimmy Buffet, at Red Rocks (a gorgeous natural amphitheater concert venue in Morrison, CO), and invited me to go. I was so psyched for the concert but it fell on the same day as my sister’s departure. My sister understood and was fine with me not seeing her off, and I decided to just blow off my promise to Michelle about taking her to the airport. What I didn’t understand was how excited Michelle was about going. I knew she’d be disappointed so I waited until that day to tell her (hey, I was nineteen and an idiot!). She wasn’t just disappointed, she was devastated. I didn’t go to the concert, but was sullen and resentful for most of the way to Denver Airport. I finally got over myself and had a lot of fun with Michelle, and I’m glad I did the right thing.
The summer went by quickly, as it always does, and my sister mapped out our journey back east. She wanted to go to Yellowstone Park, and see the Old Faithful geyser on our way back, so off we went. The small U-Haul my sister rented with the car wasn’t enough to hold all our belongings, so the back seat and the roof of the car was also laden down with our belongings. We probably should have rented one of the small U-Haul trucks, but it either didn’t fit our budget, or they didn’t have one available.
Our trek back home is memorable for some of the mishaps and not just getting to see the amazing landscape as we went. Our journey was to take us up through Wyoming, into Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and finally Massachusetts (where I was going back to), and my sister would be driving on to Vermont (where her best friend had moved back to from Seattle). It was a long, tedious drive from Boulder to Yellowstone Park, but my sister had booked our route to stay at specific motels along the way, so we had a schedule to maintain – which was good – but also added the stress of keeping to a time schedule.
After leaving Yellowstone we were anxious to make it to our motel for that night, and decided to take the advice of a local for a quicker route to our destination. We were movin’ along, singing and enjoying our journey into Montana when we came upon a sign declaring: Welcome To Wyoming. We both exclaimed ‘WELCOME TO WYOMING?!’ at the same time, stunned that our hours long drive had taken us back to the state we just left. Trying to find our way to the right route with only a national map (GPS’s not having been invented for the general public yet, nor had cell phones, or the internet) took us through a small town on a winding road where my sister negotiated a sharp turn too fast and we lost some of the belongings that were tied to the roof. We found what we could in the dark, secured the load on the roof, and finally made it back to the highway and on to that night’s destination.
The rest of the trip went more smoothly, but we did experience a harrowing ride in rush hour traffic on the outskirts of Chicago. My sister lost a few more of her belongings on the highway, which we couldn’t stop for, but got the rest tightened up again after that.
While it was wonderful to see so much of the United States, and experience some of our national treasures, and other interesting features along the way, I was never so happy to get back home. My sister felt much the same, but on her way to Vermont, the rental car broke down, or ran out of gas, I think. She got some help, but when they got back to the vehicle, someone had stolen the rest of her belongings from the roof of the car. It was a disappointing end for my sister, having already lost so much on the journey home.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.