“The end is only a door that you’ve already walked through.” – from White Horse by Tanya Buck
In some ways, it’s a chicken-egg thing. Which comes first–the end or the beginning? Did I have to clear the past in order to move forward? Or did I have to move forward to clear away the past? Both?
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, I drove up to my old house in the mountains west of Denver to make peace. It was a trip that was long overdue, and yet one I was only now ready to make, even after all these years. I hoped only for closure. I experienced so much more on my journey into—and out of—the past.
Ever since we sold the property 12 years ago, including a few weeks before I agreed to make this trip, it had haunted my dreams. My conscious mind knew the past was behind me, but my subconscious mind—and my soul—were still held hostage by it. The dreams always had the same players—my ex-husband, our children and people from the state parks department—and I was always trying to make the two realities fit somehow.
You see, this wasn’t your usual home sale—we sold to the State of Colorado. After over a decade of fighting against it, we gave in—I gave in. More accurately, I gave up. I gave up on a lot of things, and somehow it all became entangled with the loss of that property. Still, as awful as it was to go through, it was actually a great blessing in so many ways. It was also very, very messy. But then, the dismantling of a family and a home always is.
Today, the place isn’t a home. It serves a purpose for the park and many benefit from it, but it isn’t loved. Maybe one day it will be again. But for now, what was once cherished and cared for feels abandoned and neglected. That too is a reflection of my own truth when I lived there—an uncomfortable reality I worked hard not face. But I have faced it. And now, like me, the land is reclaiming itself. It is assimilating what was and what is. It is simultaneously closing and opening doors.
I did not visit the park and probably never will. I want to remember things as they were, the elk hanging out in the meadow, chirping all night. The kids fishing in the pond or skating on it in the winter. I want to remember the steep rocky trail to the old mill where I stupidly took a crazy horse and lived to tell about it. I want to remember the four-story lodge built of huge timbers where the same horse spooked at a mountain lion or a bear—or perhaps a blade of grass—and bolted through the woods on a suicide mission, and again I lived to tell about it. I want to remember exploring the old homestead cabins, imagining the lives of those who lived in that time. I want to remember what I loved about the place.
That’s all that’s left now—memories. Progress has clear-cut the land and sanitized it for public use. Hundreds of thousands will come and enjoy the area now—and that’s good. I just choose to remember the place of my heart.
There is so much more to this story, a weaving in and out of time, of people, places and circumstances that would take a book to explain. What happened at my old property—and the surreal experience with my dear friend Tanya afterward—reaches beyond the bounds of what I can fully understand. I can’t explain what happened. I only know I was deeply changed by it.
I can explain the need for me to be there on August 12—or at least one reason for it. I realized just this morning that it was on this exact date last year that my name change was stamped official. That was a profound moment for me—a reclaiming of myself and a re-creation on my own terms—a rebirthing. One year later, the same day felt like a funeral—I even wore black.
The rebirthing followed by the funeral seems backwards, and yet it is perfect, because an ending is always needed to mark a new beginning. Last year’s profound moment was a leap forward into a new life—so too is this.
Yesterday, I saw what was and what is with new eyes. The memories and fragments of my past converged and glowed with a new clarity. Old wounds carried through time were healed and it freed my heart.
It freed me.
“The end is only a door that you’ve already walked through. The answer, the question, the truth, is Love.” – Tanya Buck, White Horse