I've spent the last two weeks visiting my mom and dad in Colorado. While there, my mother and I engaged in some high-altitude shopping training. Because, after all, shopping at sea level is for sissies.
It's dangerous shopping in my parents' neck of the woods, a place where adults still wear Crocs and hiking boots are a splendid choice for daytime and evening. I often come home with ankle-length skirts with bells on them, tie-dyed shift dresses, and one time, regrettably, a hemp necklace.
Confession? I love it. I love every crunchy granola bit of it. From the Camelbacks in the airport to the Five-Finger running shoes in the grocery store, it feels like home.
The snow capped mountains framing the prairie grass. Thistles bursting with purple light. The tamales, oh Lord help me, the tamales.
Each morning, the boys and I took my parents' dog on a walk. Owen ran with her, a blur in the bright sunshine. Elated. Free. Prairie Dogs popped in and out of mounds on either side of him. "I love it here, Mom!" he cried.
Me too, Buddy. And I would do almost anything to have you grow up here.
I have to remind myself of the bad things---the snow in May and October, the pathetic excuse of a newspaper, the strip malls, the ugly political advertisements, La Casa Bonita.
But then, I see Owen ascend a climbing wall, clambering up the sides like a spider monkey, beaming with pride. I watch Joel and my father holding hands, sharing a secret smile.
And I blink back the tears, and dream of what may be someday.
When Mom and I went shopping, I bought leopard print ballet flats. So East Coast. A kicky complement to a skirt, or a fun explanation point at the end of a pant leg. The anti-Croc, one could say. (Although if there is a leopard-skin Croc, my mother will find it.)
I bought those shoes to remind me that life is full of whimsy and moments of catch-your-breath beauty. The circle of friends here in Maryland who know my heart like nobody else. The moment when yellow melts to violet as the sun sets on the Chesapeake. My hydrangeas, purple and pink orbs, floating around my doorway, and welcoming me back home.
No matter where I stand, I will bloom. And while doing so, I will be wearing fabulous shoes.