A Thousand Miles From My Cool Green Home

Three or four times my life mate and I packed up everything and moved without any idea of where we were going. I remember the looks of non-comprehension mixed with envy I’d get when I’d tell my new acquaintances how we ended up where we did, especially if those people were dreaming of leaving that very place. Perhaps it did seem a bit strange that we were so foolish or so daring to move from a place with no destination in mind and no clear plans of what to do when we arrived, but we always hoped for a better life for us. Those hopes were not fulfilled, at least not in the way we wanted, so it amazes me we took the leap so many times.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how free I felt when we left a place behind and set out for an unknown future. It felt as if the whole world lay ahead of us, and anything was possible. Once we spent the night in a motel at the truck stop in Nephi, Utah. We had no worries at the moment, nothing to do, nowhere to go, and we talked about how much fun it would be to live there at that truck stop. (Sort of like an upscale version of Bagdad Café, though this was long before the movie was filmed.) Staying wasn’t practical at the time, and so we found a place back in Colorado to settle down for a while. And the web of everyday life began to entrap us once again.

Eventually we stopped taking those trips into the unknown, though we’d still occasionally look for that ideal place. One planned trip took us to eastern New Mexico. We were standing in the middle of a dusty town — no more than a crossroads, really — and he seemed unexpectedly peaceful as he looked around that wide empty space. There were no places to rent, of course, and nothing for sale, and even if we had found a place, the nearest grocery store and library were a long way away, which would have made living there a logistical nightmare, and so we returned home. By then, all the trees and bushes we’d planted had grown up and leafed out. Our place looked cool and green, and the blue Colorado light seemed soothing after the yellowish glare of that little town.

We never moved again. His illness eventually trapped us, and then he was gone.

I am now a thousand miles from that cool green home, and a million miles from him. He no longer has a say in what I do, but still, I wonder what he would think of my plans to live a nomadic life — living nowhere and everywhere. Would he remember the times of freedom when we were temporarily untethered, and be glad for me? Or would he think of my being rootless and alone and be sad for me? I know he’d tell me to be careful, to be smart, to be alert.

I just wish I could hear him give his warnings in person, but then, if he were here to advise me, I wouldn’t need to be considering such an adventure, such a leap into the future.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+