Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's No Place Like Home


I’m not a girl who cries--as far as anyone else sees.  I spent most of high school and significant time on one job in the women’s room where no one could see the tears.  

I spent my young years in a relationship that made me cry almost every day, but I learned that isn’t love, and I left him and the tears in a galaxy far, far away.  Then my first marriage turned abusive.  Crying and fear seemed to give the man more power, so I turned my face to stone and learned to never cry.

Usually my tears are the result of anger or frustration.  It would be preferable to simply slap the offender but that’s uncivilized and usually illegal.
One friend worried about me for years because I would just shrug and walk away when demeaned or injured.  She dragged me to tearjerker movies in the hope that I would let it all out.  But I never cried over manufactured emotion.

I once slammed my hand into a fire door--those suckers are heavy--and shed not a tear.  Hopped around on one foot repeating a particular four-letter word under my breath, but no tears.
Recently I have been undergoing a series of eye surgeries.  I do my best not to cry, even when the procedure is painful.  I am determined to allow my eyes to heal as quickly as possible.  Crying is not on the medical agenda.

This summer something shifted.  I sat watching my Facebook page change by the minute with news and photos of the Waldo Canyon fire and the destruction it left.  Friends posted their evacuation status.  I switched back and forth between my page and Colorado Springs news sources--and the tears flowed non-stop.

I grew up as an Army brat.  I attended 16 schools before graduating from Palmer High in Colorado Springs.  I lived in that city off and on since I was eight years old--third and fourth grade, half of seventh grade, high school, then college.  I moved to Denver for graduate school and did not return for 24 years.  I didn’t last long when I returned; I couldn’t find a job and finally moved to the Four Corners area for work.

During the years I lived in Denver I traveled.  People would ask where I was from and I would respond that I lived in Denver.
“But where are you from?” they would ask.  And I would have to explain growing up Army.  Many military kids don’t have a sense of hometown.  I moved so often that sometimes my only bit of stability was the bed pillow I insisted on carrying everywhere.  That pillow was re-covered and re-stuffed so many times that it wasn’t the same pillow with which I started.  It was only last year that I threw it away.

Moving meant leaving behind clothing, toys and anything deemed unnecessary.  When I left Colorado Springs I took only what was necessary, but kept my memories.
Our house in Colorado Springs was near the top of a hill on the west side.  A short walk up the hill gave us a spectacular view of the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the horrid strip-mining scar on the mountain.  We walked around Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.  We used Highway 24 to Woodland Park to practice snow driving.  We went to the Flying W Ranch to sing with the cowboys because it was hokey and fun.  Whenever I returned to visit family, those same landmarks of my childhood were there.

I watched on-line as those landmarks changed or were destroyed.  And I cried until my eyes swelled because I realized that I do have a hometown and it is Colorado Springs.

My heart is with those who have lost their homes and the playgrounds I enjoyed in my youth.  They are my family.

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