One thing that Google is interesting as use for, is to search out relatives, members of the family that I don’t often or even ever hear from. Problem of living great distances apart is that it’s easy to lose touch, become unrelated in all but name, genetics and memories. Not like I didn’t send cards, just that they stopped arriving.
So, being as how I’ve been missing more of the open spaces and more often lately, I looked over images on the internet and through a few saved photo albums on my harddrive, of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where I spent intensive youthful years along with intensive older years a while ago, and then I looked back over areas of Texas, where my father lived and worked for so many years after Colorado, as have his siblings and their generations after. My dad and grandmother and grandfather are buried in Texas; aunts, uncles, cousins and grandcousins live there to this day, active, all of them, in the area in and around Austin, contributing to the state educationally, and in the arts, the law, government.
I’ve spent time in those same areas adjacent to Austin, when my father and grandmother were still living and then, also, after their passing, returning to visit where they’re resting, at first calling the aunts and cousins but later not even mentioning my stopovers there to much of anyone. Which I have a penchant for doing, making those silent, private trips to places and then leaving again.
I looked at what I found on the internet, land available in the Austin area, and wondered whatever happened to the kind, little house my grandmother lived in, as did my dad, years ago, southwest of Austin — a wooden frame place set off the blacktop, two-lane road, way back behind the live oaks and cedar trees, faced with a circular, unpaved, white pebbled and rocky drive. It was a sweet and silent place, somewhere I wish I’d been able to visit longer and more often, but could not — that was during a frenetic decade of my life and I was only able to stay on sparse weekends with no more time to do much of anything except sleep overnight, shower, say hello and then goodbye. I grew older and now see those wasted times of my younger years, wasted because of preoccupations, wasted only in the sense that opportunities to grow closer to family were passed by because of things I felt I had to do then and where, projects I was responsible for, things in remote areas that were too intense unless I was there. And, there wasn’t where the family was, so, circumstances included, my life’s been spent in places and homes far away from where the rest of my relations are. All except for those times I lived with my dad and grandmother, in Colorado and later visited with them when they moved to Texas, still emotionally defining home as to wherever they were, despite my travels, projects, wanderings.
I don’t particularly care for this “circumstances made me” line of explanation, as to the distances. So, I look at online photographs and read about my near relatives in far off Texas through Google searches and feel strange about that.
My dad used to ask me to move to Texas, to start up a life there that had become waylaid in California — which is one of those tangential and intense stories that only either a parent can understand well or a reader can through a three hundred page text — and I wish I’d listened to my father, taken his suggestions more seriously when he was still around to make those suggestions, provide those encouragements. I surely miss my father, but at least, there were those years with him while he was still living, although not nearly enough, having grown up off and on without him at home.
Texas and Colorado: places that are home to me, despite my years in California, past and present. And Florida, where I also spent many years of my childhood, both earlier and later (parents in two states, colleges later in two and then three states, and then I moved to Hawaii, so I have roots nationwide, at this point). But, about Texas and Colorado, those were the places where I lived with my dad and grandmother, and so they became and remain more a place of home than anywhere else, and Texas, especially because that’s where those near but distant relatives still live and contribute, and, of course, because my dad is still there.
Earlier than my dad’s move to Texas, I lived with him and my visiting grandmother in a split-log home in Colorado, a resolute house that was and still is older than two of my family generations combined, three stories of handmade craft that has outlasted a century of ten and twelve foot snow drifted Colorado winters. Place is still there; other families have lived in that house for the years since we moved away. Last time I visited Telluride, CO, I saw many houses in the area built in recreation of the log home standard of that place where my dad and I lived those years earlier, and I felt as if I’d lived a creative innovation, was someone off a printed page, remembering that rugged, stoic house we had as home, as if I’d lived a weathered, hardback book, one in which the summer rain splattered the tin side roof of the house at night and the midnight horses plodded around outside just beneath my upstairs window. And, to this day, claw marks remain in the back kitchen door of that old place, marks left by a hungry, aging bear in the middle of one Fall night, trying to work her way indoors to eat the redolent trout I’d left in the kitchen sink before collapsing in sleep before a warm fire indoors.
The distances in families aren’t measured by miles. Miles are the easy part.
Sunrise, Mount Daly, Capitol Peak, CO
The Colorado I lived years ago no longer exists. The world’s now urban and the wonderful wilderness I grew up in (Colorado and Florida) is no longer there.