I’m in Colorado Springs some 43 years after my last Christmas here. To go back to that event? Sad and painful. It was my dad’s last Christmas. We did our Christmas Eve gift thing in the nursing home with him. He gave me a beautiful pen and pencil set and scrawled in late stage MS penmanship, “keep writing.” He also gave me his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam inscribed with a message that I should regard it as a book of advice. I kept the gift tags and they are safe somewhere in a packed box I have yet to open.
Of of course I never imagined coming back here for Christmas. I could not imagine there would ever be a reason. I left, right?
The city has grown and changed. Many familiar places remain — and they are still familiar. The adage “you can’t go home again” is not strictly true. This city is still sort of “home.” When I left at age 20, the pain of the previous few years was unbearably intense. I thought such pain was tied to this place and by leaving here I would leave that behind, too.
I know better now. Loss and pain are everywhere in life.
Today was coldish but with a fierce wind. My friend LM is taking lessons in riding and understanding horses and we went out to the stables this morning for that, but the wind was too brutal for her to ride or, really, for the horses to be long outside the barn. I got to hang out with some wonderful horses for half an hour or more. One was a small yearling mare — half Arabian and half quarter horse. Another was a sorrel quarter horse whose friend was a gray Persian cat. There was an immense (to me) gray horse with a sense of humor who decided I’d hung out long enough with the yearling. He came up behind me and bumped my elbow to say, “My turn!”
Since last January when Brownie came to live next door and I got to know him, I’ve liked horses and have become very curious about them and the way they seem able to communicate with me. It always seemed kind of bogus, the relationship between, say, a cowboy and a horse, but Brownie clearly knew me and loved me and knew when I was there and when I was not. He knew when to expect me home on which days. If I said, “I’ll be right back,” he waited. Now I want to know more.
Horses were part of my life here so long ago, too, but like everything they were sharp and scary and pain inflicting. My best friend back then had a horse who actively resented me. It was true. But I made the mistake then of thinking that was horses. I didn’t see the intelligence behind her jealousy just as I didn’t see that pain is a part of life in general, for everyone, not just for me in this one place in one moment of life.
Maybe when you’re young it’s impossible to see the big picture just because you haven’t lived long enough to have turned over many pieces of the puzzle…