Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Truth Hits Everybody

While vacationing in Boulder, I made a point of getting out early in the day to take a run. The Colorado sun was far less forgiving than the fog-shrouded mornings I have become accustomed to in California. I also found that I was covering larger chunks of road while I was away from my wife and son. There was nothing in particular for which I had to rush back. As long as I was available for meals, my mom would wait. I went North, South, and West. Then one morning I realized that I had callously overlooked the East.
By the fifth day, the altitude was no longer a concern, and so I headed down a trail near my mother's house with the expectation of seeing what there was to see. You see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear. I saw the bright sun reflecting off the concrete that stretched out in front of me. I saw a few shadows on the path and breathed deep as I passed through them. I saw mothers pushing strollers. I saw boys and girls pedaling their bikes. I saw other hearty souls putting in a few miles before the summer heat overwhelmed us all. I saw a man up ahead walking his black lab. I chose to follow him.
I did have some sense of where I was headed. Though this path was new to me, I knew that I was headed away from the mountains and my mother's house. I knew I needed to return there eventually, which is why when I had almost caught up with the black lab and his master I chose to break off my pursuit of the east and turn back in the direction from whence I had come. That's when I realized where I was.
I was on a  road just behind Mountain View Cemetery. Not the one in Oakland, where I would be returning soon enough, but the one in Boulder. This was the one that truly had a view of the mountains: The Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The gate was open. Normally, I don't run through cemeteries, since it strikes me as profoundly rude and disrespectful. But I have relatives here. I came to Boulder to be with my family. The gate was open. I ran in.
I made my way around the perimeter, and then to the center walkway, remembering all those Memorial Days that my brothers and I spent trailing after my mother as she moved from one grave to another, placing iris she had cut fresh from our own garden on those she wanted to memorialize. I tried to remember where those plates were. There were no headstones here, the markers were all set flat into the ground, so as not to obscure the mountain view. And suddenly, I looked down: there was my grandmother and grandfather, lying together even though the dates would separate them by many years. They had come to rest here, right at the corner, in the center. This told me what I had already half-remembered from stories I had heard as a kid. Grandpa was one of the first to be buried in this new place, across town from the old graveyard that was full of Boulder's Old West past. He was part of the new pioneers. The ones that were going to bring Boulder out of the second world war and into a new age of prosperity. He didn't really get that chance. He was gone before he got to take over the pharmacy at the new medical center. He left behind a wife and a daughter, my mother. I had stopped running. I stood there for a moment, and then bent down to pat the warm metal surface that carried his name next to his wife's. Good to tag off with you grandpa. Nice to see you too, grandma.
The heat of the day was coming, I could feel it on the back of my neck. I looked up at the mountains, and back down at my legacy. I bid them adieu and was off again, running back to the west.

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