At the bottom of the hill the truck pulls over, a seemingly automated response, and we step out without a word, each on our own side, headlamps over wool caps shining the way, bending over under the wheel well to unhook the chains from around the back tires. We’re getting this down to record time. Then shake off the snow, slush and mud like a wet dog in from play and return to the haven of the truck, pressing our cold wet fingers up against the heating vents to revive them before continuing on down the road.
Exhale, deep and full and rich, our breath steams the windows, adding to the fog we drive through as we descend this little mountain. All this oxygen. We have adjusted. It is easy. Natural. The body and lungs quickly forget the struggle from ten years of high altitude.
The pale blue glow of the dash on my husband’s face as he focuses on the road ahead, a narrow path of vision, white tracks on a white road with white branches bending over. We see only as far at the headlights allow, a narrow tunnel, all white ending abruptly in black. The unknown void beyond. Nothing too interesting. We’ve seen it all during the day. No surprises lurking (like the sudden sheer drop off fifty feet down into the vast expanse of the Rio Grande Reservoir found on our drive home in Colorado) except the regular crossing of the deer, calm and oblivious to our big truck with its potentially daunting grill. I swear they have a sixth sense of the speed which we drive.
We drive slow. With each bend in the road, we descend, the snow thins, pale old grasses emerging, and deer become more plentiful, bounding before the narrow view of the headlights. Houses twinkle like stars on the snowy hillsides. They sky is hazed over with probability. Chances are there will be more snow tomorrow.
Our last night of commuting. The back and forth ritual of separating work from rest, day from night, business from pleasure. It has been years for both of us. Years since we had to separate the two. There is comfort in the overlap. A solid sense of place, of belonging, allowing the two extremes, work and play, to intertwine. Becoming our life. Life without boundaries. All consuming. Defining us, each day, all around the same sense of place. And harder to walk away. Work follows you home at night when you live with it.
Redefining of self. I am not this place. I am not my job. Who am I then? Odd the sense of comfort we take from these simple knowns and givens. And the unease we find without.
A new world we have walked into. On our own four feet. Bob’s two. My two. A solid couple. Not me as a part of his life. Finding a way to fit in, to make the most, to enhance and enrich, an accessory, finishing the outfit just so. We survived and thrived. Survived living in a construction zone. In potential poverty. In limbo. In the midst of stories lingering heavy like fog carried from the past to the present where they carried no weight but undoubtedly obscured ones view. In the middle of the in-law’s battlefield. In harsh elements and extreme conditions. Now what? What next?
I can’t tell you much about it yet. Like a new parent preaching about how to raise a child. It feels so wonderful we become euphoric and want to share. But in reality, we must await the solid test of time.
I’ve never been one to hold back.
We start with simple tasks like chaining up the truck tires. Do actions define us?
My mind has got ahead of me again. Forget it for minute. And just concentrate on the task at hand. Driving down the road, dodging deer, on the snowpacked road.
Before we arrive at our temporary home, the last night in a new place that quickly got old, snow begins to fall. Big fat chunky flakes glowing like a million moths in the headlights. Mesmerizing. Dazzling. A confusion of elements and light. Somehow calming and comforting. We have seen this before.