On a blustery Friday before Christmas I drove to our old house, 1870 Ranch Circle. I walked through the windswept yard and onto the deck, and rang the bell I installed nearly a decade ago. No one home, though the door was cracked and a tired old dog inside let out a bark. I took a few pictures. The house feels tired and unloved, though the view still moves me. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it doesn’t feel like home anymore.
For years after we left it did. The first house I owned, that I remodeled with my own hands. The beam ends I built, my labors of love, symbols of the person I chose to be then. They once felt alive, like extensions of myself. And beyond the house, I found versions of myself on the routes at Lumpy, in the weather itself pouring over the divide and into town.
They shaped me, communicated with me in a language I came to love in our five years there. The back-and-forth of storms advancing and retreating, of measurement and construction, of gear placement and ascension. Each required a kind of acceptance that felt spiritual to me. There is no forcing a route or remodel, and no arguing with a storm.
Now the beams are weather-worn and silent. Lumpy is a postcard. The clouds snagged on the teeth of the divide obscure the sun. I yearn for the warmth of our stove and my son and wife, and the shelter of the land we live on now, which is full of trees and animals and has room for grandparents and in-laws. I look forward to the embrace of that strange tribe I’m part of in Boulder, with kids and businesses of their own.
It’s a relief in a way, because now there is no pressure on this place. I no longer feel sorrowful for the loss of that house, with its lovely, sad hail-pitted fascia and lonely ponderosa grove. I no longer crave the shelter of the lee sides of the boulders we tucked behind, the long-gone dogs and I, on our winter walks.
What I miss is the acceptance. Once upon a time we lived simply because we had no choice. It seems quaint that we didn’t even consider remodeling when we bought that beat-up old house. It’s beautiful in some ways to be rather than to become. Feels like it’s time to reestablish balance between the two.