"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musical Monday: Colorado Memories

This is the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre. Why would this matter to a resident of New Hampshire?

I spent 11 very happy years living in the Centennial State. Our first marital house was situated slightly southwest of Denver, the Mile High City, in the foothills of unincorporated Jefferson County. Our mailing address was Littleton, but in fact Littleton was an incorporated city several miles away, geographically and in other respects. Our sitting room windows framed a fine foothills vista. It was a short stroll to a heron pond and park. Convenient shopping. Lots of the Chap's co-workers lived in the same area, so we very quickly developed an active social life. I was a Junior League volunteer for a while, and worked with various nonprofts, which expanded our circle of acquaintances. However, there was no Episcopal church.

Efforts were sometimes made to incorporate our area. I didn't have very strong feelings about that. I did, however, support the accompanying drive to give our location an official name.

Columbine. Columbine, Colorado.

That's where my novel-writing career began. At the time, the nearest county library was some distance away. Our "local" library was a few blocks away--it did double service as public library and high school library.

The school? Columbine High School.

Its collection was small but adequate. I could find a decent novels, periodicals, books on the writing profession like Writer's Market with listings of publishers and agents. I shared the space with the students. I learned to time my visits in the morning, when they were in classes. Before lunch hour or when the seniors got out.

Before long we were spending part of the year in NH and the UK. We had a strong urge to relocate to the East Coast--specifically the Granite State--for lots of reasons. And it would cut down the Chap's commuting time to England, Ireland, Europe--wherever he happened to be working.

It took us several years to find our perfect NH house. Soon as we saw the Lodge our fate was sealed. We left Colorado 15 years ago. The Chap returned from time to time, for business reasons. I've never been back at all. I always assumed I would eventually, when the time was right.

Five years after leaving the Colubmine massacre took place. I can't forget the horror of that day, wondering about the safety and fate of the children of the neighbourhood where we'd lived. That afternoon the Chap and I were flying down to Washington DC. He pried me away from our television. In every aiport I gravitated to the nearest telly for updates on the story. For me it was a very personal tragedy. Watching it, I decided I didn't want to return.

The tv networks were showing a place I knew so well. I could see the larger, new and improved high school. The media farms--satellite trucks, etc.--were parked in the adjacent Clement Park, where we used to have picnics, right next to the enormous new county library, built several years before we moved away.

This anniversary brings back the agony of that day, the pain and senselessness of the unfolding events.

I didn't know what song to pick for today. Almost didn't. Thought about Boomtown Rats' I Don't Like Mondays but it stirs up too much awfulness and watching the video made me cry.

So I've chosen a song I never much liked that gives a happier outlook on Colorado, by a late great resident of that state. But he lived in Woody Creek, near Aspen, and I lived in the Denver suburbs, which might account for my more nuanced assessment.

Here's my take on Colorado: beautiful and sunny and huge. Mild winters (at least where we lived) with occasionally insane amounts of snowfall. Incredible summers. The exquisite gold of aspen leaves in September. Amazing scenery--as long as you were gazing west, towards the Rockies. Wonderful people. Thriving economy. Suburban sprawl. Landlocked (way too far from any ocean). Arid and far too few trees. Our NH lake cottage seemed so far away. Our flights to London took forever....

And yet, as I said, I was happy there. Possibly because I knew it was a temporary posting, and thus made an effort to enjoy it to the fullest.

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