Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween in a New Town

For nine Halloween seasons in Colorado Springs, we had a good idea where the items from our boxes of Halloween decor would go. Now we’re somewhere else.

Challenge accepted. As if I had a choice.
The house is painted, but the fence must wait until spring. A windstorm tore the Grim Reaper from the column.

I’ve had a difficult time with this move, beginning with the fact that my family’s debt plus the increasing expense and stress of living in a rapidly transforming Colorado Springs forced us into it in the first place. Where we finally ended up—after much more stress and expense—was the best of a bunch of bad options. 
These painted pumpkins on a miniature post were assembled and painted in Laurel Bay, SC, in the late 1990s when our children were small.

Of all the fixer-upper dumps across Colorado in our all-we-can-afford list, Big Pink in Monte Vista was the most feasible. Believe me, it photographs better than it actually is. We sank all our profits from the sale of our old house into replacing the tube-and-knob wiring and repairing/painting the exterior. Much still needs to be done on the inside. For now, we’re satisfied we won’t die in an electrical fire on one of the San Luis Valley’s fabled -30F (-34.44C) winter nights.
The piling leaves really sell this. They’re even deeper now. We’re waiting until after Halloween to rake.

Have I mentioned that the San Luis Valley is rated as one of the coldest places in the lower 48 United States of America? Well, Alamosa, anyway, but that’s because it’s 100 feet in elevation below Monte Vista. This valley, like all valleys, is a trap for sinking cold air down the sides of the mountains. The valley floor, while tilting several hundred imperial feet upwards from east to west, still starts at 7,5oo feet, and goes up from there. We’re at “cold enough to crack stones” from the git-go, as Cormac McCarthy described the weather in his heartwarming family classic The Road.

On the other hand, we might be in one of the more tolerable places to live, given the weather in our native U.S. Deep South. Looking at the weather news there across the region over the past year, I wonder whatever possessed me to consider moving back that way. (Proximity to extended family and closest friends was the one big one. The notion wasn’t entirely irrational.)

As far as Colorado goes, it was either the high valley or the high plains, and with all respect to the good people of the Lower Arkansas River Valley and up in the northeast corner of the state in Burlington, I don’t know how you people do it. Some towns are definitely worse than others; I could taste the meth and despair on the hot winds blowing across Rocky Ford. It’s bad enough here in the flat valley in Monte Vista, but I can see mountains if I look hard enough. No such luck in La Junta. For all my complaints, this could have been so much worse.
This is door hanger is new, and peculiar to Big Pink.
My wife saw this design on Yahoo! earlier
this month. It cost her a total of $17 U.S.
to assemble the components.

I should note that it’s this “but on the other hand” back-and-forth in my head that’s contributed much to my misery over the past eight months or so. Embracing my anger at all the fuss that had to happen because of crap I had little to no control over has helped inasmuch as dismissing it has not.

That said, here we are, three hours away from our grown children, but at least in the same state. I’d wondered if I’d ever feel attached to this place at all, given that I have raised no children here. It’s just the wife and I, in a town where we know absolutely no one except for the various handymen we’ve had come out to fix things on this crumbling pile.
Imagine this at night when the lights over the mantelpiece show more clearly through the picture window.

(Of course, I didn’t even speak much if at all to the few people we knew in Colorado Springs. Really, all the closest people to us are back home Down South....and here we go again.)
The arrangement has changed somewhat since the 10th. Of course, we’re making adjustments as we go, and nothing will be set in stone.

It took my wife leaving me alone in the house for a week, and October light to bring me around a quarter-turn, if not all the way. I whiled away the time stomping around the uneven floors and talking to myself, which, it turns out, I really must do from time to time. I’ll drop all of the self-consciousness and let my inner life coach out to talk me through the simplest tasks (“all right, let’s get this kitchen cleaned”) to the stuff I prefer not to think about (“you closed accounts with these people years ago; explain this anger”). 

After a while, I get sick of it. That happened just in time for my wife to return from visiting her mom in Alabama. The delightfully temperate days and nights did the rest.
Cast your fate to the wind.

The days were warm, but windstorms came through to strip the leaves from the trees in our yard. These windstorms were not nearly the roof-ripping nightmares they are in Colonoscopy Springs, so, so far, so good on that. The nights are everything anyone could ask of an October. Calm, still moonlight through high clouds holding the warmth of the Indian summer day, but barely. The sound of leaves ticking down the wide street like rain....

I still have some psychic ground to cover. So I hate change? Congratulations, I’m normal. For all the back and forth in my head, the fact remains that I am one fortunate son of a bitch to have had options at all, however distasteful. All I have to do is meet that luck halfway.

Just as we move around our Halloween figurines and throw out the bad lights, changes will be made on the fly, as we go, as we adjust. It’s only the first Halloween. This is how settling in gets done.

You’d think I’d know that by now. Ah, well. It is what it is.