But I can't read the cards. Not yet.
I read Kerry's before I left. She told me the ways our friendship has inspired her. It was one of the nicest cards anyone ever wrote to me. Now I can't bring myself to open the others. I miss my friends too much to read their heartfelt words. I tear up every time I think too long about them. When I sit for more than a minute and let my mind grab a hold of a memory of our coffee group or bunco or a rally in the alley or our recent girls' trip, the tears come almost instantly and I have to shake it off and move on to some meaningless task in the day so I don't dwell on the hole left by their absence.
The cards wait for me on the desk. I am not ready to cry buckets.
I knew this move would be hard. Moving always sucks. We've done it 3 times in 10 years. But I thought this move would be hardest on the kids. Turns out, it's crazy hard on me too. The hardest move so far. When we decided to try for this job transfer for the third time, I told my husband that the only one unhappy in Virginia was him; the kids and I were perfectly content.
Except that we always had to hop on a plane to see family (expensive.)
Except that my mom is getting older and sicker, won't travel, and needs my help more frequently. Being in Colorado would mean I could get to her easily.
Except that I didn't want my kids to go to high school then college in Virginia because Dad and I would move back to our beloved Colorado eventually. I wouldn't want to leave our settled older kids behind.
Our plan when we left Colorado ten years ago was to return the first chance we got. And, if at all possible before our kids got to high school. (T-Bone will be a freshman next year.) This was the plan! It's what I always hoped for.
I love Colorado. The Rocky Mountains took a firm hold when my grandparents drove my sister and me from Texas to Estes Park for a week in a cabin when I was eight years old. Crisp air, cold mountain streams twinkling in the sun, high peaks towering in the blue - I was hooked. Twenty years later I packed up my car the day after Christmas and drove myself to Denver to start a new job and a new chapter. I was done with Texas and ready for a big-girl adventure. Those first few years in Denver were some of the happiest of my life. Skiing, camping, falling in love, getting married, having beautiful babies.
So why does it hurt so much to be back in paradise?
Because adjusting takes time. New friendships don't start instantaneously. New paths aren't worn into familiar comfort overnight. I know all this. It's what I tell my kids. And myself. I am lucky to have friends here I am excited to be reconnecting with. One of my sister-in-laws lives here and I really like her! I can't get enough of the fresh air and mountains. I am maybe most excited at the thought that I might never have to move again. This is where I want my roots to be forever on out.
It is good to be back. But it doesn't diminish what I've lost.
I miss smiling faces on the alley happy to see me as we wind down for an easy weekend. I miss hearing the kids squawk and giggle playing basketball, skate boarding, throwing the ball around on the back driveway. I miss little girls piled in toy electric cars while the little boys drive them over the grass. I miss wine and book talk late into Tuesday night and turning around the next morning to have coffee and breakfast casseroles at our "play group." My home in Virginia was the strongest, most connected I've been to a big group of wonderful people since growing up in The Fort.
When will I be ready to read those cards and letters?
Perhaps when old and new friendships are plentiful enough to hold back quick tears. I am keeping busy, I am having fun. There are old friends here I care a lot about. But the new people I meet aren't very inviting and welcoming. A few have been lovely but on the whole, I expected it to be easier than this to meet new people. It's a bit lonely so far. I don't talk about this with my friends "back home" in Virginia. I haven't admitted it to my husband yet. (I am just starting to fully admit it my self.) Being lonesome is a very rare emotion for me; and a despised one.
I am not sure when I'll open myself up to the colorful bundle on my desk. Right now I am trying to to be open to all the happiness Colorado has in store for me this time around. I am out there looking for it.