Day 31 Tuesday, August 9 Laramie, WY to Loveland, CO 78 miles
I am sitting here on the bed of Dave’s old room in Loveland, CO where I grew up. I feel more at home now than I have the whole trip. Dave and I met in the second grade and although life has taken us many different directions we have been able to maintain our friendship. Dave’s house was a second home for me. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that Dave’s family was a second family. I have great memories of many sleepovers at his house, fishing and camping trips with his family, playing basketball and ping pong, and sharing meals with them.
The ride from Laramie to Loveland was a day of mixed emotions. I will save you all the details behind it. There are whole chapters that could be written about each of the details and you can be assured that I have kept the therapeutic community well endowed with my regular visits to the couch over the years. The closer I got to Loveland the more I both anticipated it and was anxious about it. I almost called Dave’s parents saying that I planned to stay in a motel simply because I wasn’t ready to handle the strange stew of emotions that were arising.
Nearing the town of Loveland, the miles didn’t seem to matter today. I was pulled along by the yearning to get back to this place that I had called home for so much of my early life. Even as I entered the state of Colorado and the terrain subtly shifted I could feel myself relax into the mountains. The pedaling got harder, yet I felt more at ease on the bike. That was shortlived as I began to see mileage signs for Loveland.
My thoughts turned to my mother who still lives in the house I grew up in. We have been estranged for more than twenty years and I found myself wrestling with whether to attempt to see her while in town. My natural inclination would be to let the past go and take advantage of this time we have. Yet, for whatever reason we have not been able to overcome the break that occurred so long ago. As I neared town I began to feel tempted to check Loveland off my list and then move forward on the trip as soon as possible. I recognized the feeling. It had running away written all over it.
Loveland has it all for me. It is where I some of my deepest hurts originated. It is where I was most shaped by a couple of very important early mentors who helped me overcome earlier barriers. It is where I both learned to love the Church for its rich community and rhythms and come to distrust it for its narrow religious focus. Loveland is where I developed this passion for cycling through the Rockies and experiencing the glory of God. Loveland is where my life was shaped by a deep emotional loneliness and a taste of intimate belonging. This town brings with it both the longing for home and the pain of feeling homeless.
Tonight though, I sit on this bed where I don’t feel the need to rush off. I was always a 3rd son in this household and family. I like this feeling. I like coming back to a place 30 years later and discovering that there is still a home here. I still belong as if I had never left. I know I can’t hold onto it by staying here. My life is no longer in Loveland, but very much tied up with my children and the people, the story and the culture of Portland. But, I am treasuring these feelings of old and plan to take them with me.
I will linger in Loveland for a couple of days. My body needs the time to recover, but more than anything I need to make sure that when I leave I am not running away from uncomfortable feelings. I need to stay long enough to connect with my story and my past and then move on when I feel ready to take both the healed and broken shards of my past with me. This is where I am most vulnerable. I am glad to be here and I am nervous. I wonder, what will I see, as I look into the mirror of my past?
This will be a sacred time for me. It may be many miles down the road before I can invite you back in. When it feels safe again I will open up my heart. Until then, don’t be surprised if I start talking about the weather!