Wednesday was my second anniversary with the state of Utah. Sometimes it feels like a life someone else has been leading.
Minutes after putting the car in park and walking up the stairs of my new home, I received a phone call. The person on the other end told me he might be sick and that he hadn’t wanted to tell me when I was driving 900 miles across the desert alone. It then registered why my sister sounded so odd the night before. She was listening to me describe the weather – cold –and the roads – quiet. Meanwhile, she was in hell and couldn’t say a word.
I recall listening to him talk about medical tests and the plan for the days ahead. At the time, I was standing in the bedroom of a tiny, rundown apartment with a bathroom tiled hot pink. It had a plastic accordion door. I tried tucking into the shadows of the closet to listen while D and a friend talked in the kitchen. They had no idea.
For a while I wondered whether I should just put all the boxes back in my car and keep driving east. Instead, I phoned every day, trying to find different ways to ask the same question: How are you? And. How are you really? Because calling is not the same.
Over the next few weeks I spent considerable time reading survival manuals, and running on snow-covered trails because it was the one place nobody else was. I spent evenings talking to the ceiling and summoning the universe. I dreamt of dead people and hoped they were right when they came to me saying, “There isn’t a lot of fruit in the cake.”
I thought about that first day a lot Wednesday night. I was sitting on a couch in a different room in a different house where I don’t have to hide. (And where the downstairs bathroom is a much more modest shade of bubblegum.) D asked what I was thinking. How grateful I am, I said.
Over the past two years three words have come to hold real meaning for me: remission, marriage, and babies. During that time my person got sick and he got better; my boyfriend became my husband; and my sister announced her pregnancy, then doubled down. The boys are all alright. Life is fucking awesome. I have jack shit to complain about. (And yet I still do.) But I am trying to be grateful every day, not just when I take a moment to reflect on the big picture.
This year I aim to worry less about things I cannot take credit for causing or changing. I will live my life here until I live it somewhere else. And these days, motion seems to be the topic bandied about most in our household. What next? Where next? The answers will eventually come. I know I am good with change. That is, once I know what it is.
Until then, I will admit who I am: an environmentalist, a feminist, and a person who generally hangs left. That is true regardless of the zip code I am in. And I want to stop feeling as though those are things I should say in a hushed voice in restaurants. I had no idea how much I would really miss seeing the shirtless guy in the glitter spandex riding his bike on Market Street in San Francisco.
Last weekend D and I drove up the canyon to go skiing and get out of the inversion—otherwise known as smog to the rest of the world. Above 6,000 feet the sky was clear and the snow was powder. My fingers froze on the downhill. It was nice to be alone in the wilderness and just take in the view.
I know that one day we will leave here. One day I will tell you I miss the cold. I miss the high desert mountains, and the dinnertime conversations pondering, where to next? I know that someday I will pull out my skis and remember the climb up Temple Fork and the jagged mountains beyond. I will try to recall how my fingertips burned from the cold. And it will feel like yesterday.