I am sitting at a table at Denver International Airport, and I feel as if I have landed in Insta-World. Put my hand here, and water streams out. Rub hands together there and, presto, the hands are dry. A few steps away there is a kiosk that allows me to recharge my electronic equipment, and next to that, a vending machine that dispenses equipment I don’t already have.
I am ready to fly home.
It has been a wonderful vacation in Colorado, which is now, officially, the slimmest state in America. I have done my best to upset that statistic by eating homemade tamales, sweet corn doused with butter, jalapeno-peach jam and pasta handcrafted by my son.
I have taken long drives in country that is bursting with wildflowers and ponderosa pine. I have seen rivers sparkling and birch trees quaking under a Rocky Mountain sky. I have been amazed and encouraged by the number of people hiking, cycling, fishing, rafting and running in the Great Outdoors.
I have tended the grave of my brother who died too soon, visited elderly relatives, performed basic home repairs, and shared a meal with my mother’s pinochle-playing friends at the senior center. I have smothered my grandchildren with kisses and had long, touching conversations with my in-laws.
But I am ready to fly home.
I have marveled at the selection of gluten-free foods offered at the local grocery stores, toured Celestial Seasonings’ tea factory and watched entertainers swallow fire at Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.
I missed an opportunity to see bull riders dressed in pink at a rodeo benefitting the American Cancer Society, but have no regrets that I spent that evening getting humiliated by my mother’s superior Scrabble skills.
I have visited my childhood home in Aspen and reacquainted myself with the stunning beauty of the mountains. I have also shopped at a second-hand store where the cheapest duds were $285, witnessed the clients of an exclusive doggy day camp on an excursion, and wondered if I was the only woman in town who didn’t have a plastic surgeon.
I am ready to fly home.
I have stayed up late to work on my manuscripts, juggled projects on thumb drives, borrowed Internet connections, and searched for facts in unfamiliar libraries.
I have watched lightning storms from the shelter of my mother’s living room and sweltered in 98-degree heat. I have listened to the roll of thunder and the rattling of hail falling on tin.
I have shared tea with friends celebrating new beginnings and those whose divorces will soon be final. I have tried to squeeze the story of 20 years into 20-minute conversations that ended with mutual pledges to do a better job staying in touch.
I have worried over the status of my still-on-the-market Colorado home and enthusiastically toured the foreclosure recently purchased by a friend. I have seen signs of economic recovery and an equal number of indications that the rebound is far, far away.
I have called my husband and the children in Kodiak every day and have heard about the sunny days, the rain, the sailing vessel from Russia, the plans for the St. Herman pilgrimage, and the ripening of the salmonberries.
I have told them I can’t wait to come home, and I have meant it. I have also told my family in Colorado that I am sad to leave. And I have meant it.
If only this Insta-World had a portal — if only I could step on one side and be in Colorado; step on the other side and be in Kodiak. Or better yet, a button I could press that would allow me to be, simultaneously, with all of the people I love.
But it isn’t meant to be. I will miss them. Still, I am ready to fly home.