I’ve been off my blog for a few months. Usually this is a sign of stress, trauma, drama and a touch of seasonal depression. Yep. Two family deaths around the holidays, my darling father and wonderful father-in-law, just about wrecked me. (Father-in-law was actually a “step,” but since he served as a father figure to Hubs for as long as I have known him, the step is removed to honor the relationship and the man.) Weirdly, my dad’s death makes me miss my mom more deeply. Plus I am now officially an orphan, although at 57, it’s not quite as socially acceptable to feel sorry for oneself, and I don’t think anyone will likely adopt me.
So I slogged through, and, as usual, find myself peeking my head out on the other side. I have come to understand, in my maturity, that most years, viewed from the aggregate, are much the same. There are triumphs and tragedies, some years more eventful in good ways or bad, but time passes like the sea. It ebbs and flows, there are violent storms, and beautiful dawns, and treasures washed up at your feet, if you are smart enough to look for them.
Almost one year into our big move to Estes Park, Colorado, it does not yet feel completely like “home.” I miss some dear friends and family desperately, but I am content. I find myself having to become much more extroverted, joining groups and saying, “yes!” to many things I did not in my past. I think it’s probably a bit like the middle-aged dating some of my friends are suffering through. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but necessary if you don’t want to becoming a reclusive crazy cat lady. This week includes a group cooking class, a bit of work, and coffee with a new friend. I changed my email moniker to cherihagnauer2.0 for a reason!
Leaving your hometown of 56 years is a big change, and change is hard. But I wake up every day to the stunning views of the mountains, Hubs and Her Royal Highness Lily Dog by my side; one son lives only an hour and a handful away, and most people here (Estes Parkians? Estesites? Estesers? Estes Parkers?) are generally friendly and welcoming, if you make the effort. Rocky Mountain National Park is now my playground.
Other benefits to living in Estes Park:
Every day, in every way, going into the kitchen provides continual “snake in a can” moments of practical joke excitement. The altitude affects packaging of everything. Of course you expect the soda to spurt, and chip bags are so filled with extra air that we have learned to stab them before opening to avoid a confetti cannon of carbs. Meal preparation is always an adventure, as you open the cottage cheese container and get a dairy facial, or unleash Mt. Vesuvius as you release the cap on a bottle of salad dressing.
Estes has toughened me to the elements of nature. Chicagoans are babies. Windy City, my Aunt Fanny! Our winters consist of many nights of 40 m.p.h. winds, with gusts hurricaning in around 80 or so. Our deck grill is trussed up with bungee cords, and we keep our outdoor furniture mostly indoors. Lily often gives us her “You must be crazy!” look as we try to tempt her into the backyard for her last evening relief mission. Springtime has a different definition up here. Any day above 40 degrees, you will see the Estes kids cavorting on the playground in shorts and t-shirts. It’s also considered prime picnic weather. The reality that we are not always the highest on the food chain, and must be aware of mountain lions and bears (oh my!) is eye opening, as well.
I have observed that people are people, and small towns are small towns. Everything that happens in Estes Park happened in my old hometown of Kirkwood, Missouri. There are building and zoning issues, those pro and against the mayor and the council, the contrarians against everything faction, the change and grow because we can groups, and the don’t ever change anything brigade. There are curmudgeons and crabs, the cool kids, and people so nice you can’t believe they are for real. There are the lifers who think the newcomers should have no say, and the newcomers who think the town they chose should now change to better fit their needs. There are the volunteers that keep the community running, and the sideliners who do nothing but complain.
I have come to realize that where one lives has its good and bad, funny and fractious, and it is really all about your view. My view from Estes is amazing, and my mission is to remember and appreciate it.