Article reprint from the Pagosa Springs Dining Guide winter/spring 2014 issue, with permission.
By Rebecca Stark
I first met you on a family vacation in the spring of 1985.
I was nine.
My mom had to force me to put down my “Archie and Jughead” comic book as we drove over Wolf Creek pass so I wouldn’t miss the view.
I didn’t appreciate you then.
My parents fell in love with your beauty, your promise of a more wholesome life. We went back to Texas, packed everything up, and were relocated by the fall.
I began the 4th grade at Pagosa Springs Elementary.
I loved it immediately.
I came home from my first day of school exclaiming, “Mom! The girls don’t wear name brand jeans here!!”
Having suffered the pressure of trying to keep up in Texas, this was very good news!
I grew up with you, Pagosa.
So much of who I am was formed within the safe arms of your small, mountain community. I learned how to drive on your back roads. I had my first kiss amongst your trees. I swam in your river, rode down your mountain, soaked in your springs. I devoured your green chile burgers. I cruised Main Street a thousand times.
I knew your people.
We all knew each other.
We were legends.
My family and I moved away the summer after my sophomore year.
I was heartbroken.
You were a part of me. You held a part of me.
And I knew I’d never be the same without you.
Like a jilted lover, I looked on forlornly as you grew and changed without me. I watched from afar as friends graduated, moved away, and moved back home. I was jealous. I wanted to come home to you. I wanted to be a part of your story.
But I didn’t come back. Not for a long time.
In the winter of 2012, the stars aligned and I got the chance to come see you.
My bff’s hooked me up with a snowboard and a pass and a place to stay.
I drove down and arrived late in the night.
You looked like I remembered. Your smell, so familiar.
We got up early and headed up the mountain.
I got on the lift, heart racing…
I hadn’t ridden since I’d left, 20 years prior.
Would I fall? What was I doing?!
My board hit the snow…and it was like no time had passed at all.
It was perfect.
It was one of the best days of my life.
Everything that had come and gone in the last 20 years, the heartbreak, the disappointments, the wandering, the displacement… I left it behind me that day as we flew down the mountain.
I felt like I was 16 again.
I felt like I was home.
When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them “oh, this small town in SW Colorado…”
We were only together for seven years.
But they were my formative years, and you are the closest thing to home that I know.
I will always love you. I will always cherish the times we had.
Until we meet again,