Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I want to return to Colorado

I’m tired of hurricanes, bad news, and looming disasters.

Today a co-worker who’s worked here 16 years died. You might call it hurricane related. He was on the roof of his church, fixing it. He took it upon himself to help out with projects around the church after work and went there when we had the day off because of Hurricane Rita. I guess he thought it was safe because though we got some gusty winds up here, it wasn’t that bad. But he fell off the roof and died. Because of the hurricane, no one was around the church. He lay there until a passer-by spotted him. He died this morning after being in a coma.

I saw him two weekends ago at Cracker Barrel. He was there with his family, and saw me and said, “Hey Bonnie!” in passing. Funny how you remember those little things…seeing a co-worker you’ve worked with for 12 years out of the office makes more of an impression than seeing him around the building.

And now Rita is marching toward Texas… another disaster blossoming… and all I can think of is Colorado and how peaceful and quiet it was. In the mountains of Colorado, no one talks of hurricanes. Katrina is a distant disaster you give money for, but it didn’t really affect you.

The locals talk of working weekends, the aspens turning, how the elk are coming down from the mountains into the valleys for rutting season. There’s no talk of hurricanes, storm shutters, people turned homeless due to storm surges. You don’t wonder if your insurance really sucks or if the tree limbs you forgot to trim will be the ones crashing through the roof.

You don’t think about co-workers dying from falling off church roofs during winds caused by a hurricane miles south.

I want to return to Colorado. I know the snow would drive me back to Florida. But for now, I want my lake and my mountains back. I want to sit on that porch and write for the sheer joy of writing. I want to forget about hurricanes, the stress of not having another book out, or the frenzy to promote a book once it is out and the stress of having a snarky person gleefully rip it to shreds in reviews, the tension of working for a charity and seeing starving kids again and again.

Knowing some of them will die and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. I'm tired of death and grief and sorrow.

I just want to return to Colorado and write. Maybe get a job in a stable mucking out horse dung.

On Sunday, DH went horseback riding in Colorado. I decided to join him. I got as far as climbing onto the back of this horse that was probably 15 hands high, seeing the rocky, steep mountain trail we would climb. That was it. My gut said, NO. I got off. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy myself. I wouldn’t relax, being up that high, coming down a steep mountain on a horse, not knowing how to control the horse.

Dh went by himself. I watched him ride off, feeling deeply ashamed and embarrassed. Then I drove off to the lake by myself and cried because I was such a chicken. I wanted so badly to ride a horse, to feel what it was like, as my Khamsin warriors do. And yet I panicked.

And then I come home and realize there are things in my life that would freak out the cowboys who run the stables. Like living with the tiny fear each time a hurricane marches close to your doorstep. Of losing your house, your job, everything in your life. Or the stress of traveling to countries where you can get kidnapped, tortured and killed… and seeing poverty that most people see only on television, and then they flip the channels. Or the stress of being a writer, period.

Come to think of it, I’m not such a chicken after all. But I still want to return to Colorado. Mucking out a horse stall is looking pretty good right now.

1 comment:

Patti O'Shea said...


You are one of the bravest people I know. A lot more people ride horses than go into the countries you visit, and all to help others. I admire your courage and what you do.