Stay Like a Promise. ~ Tyler Knott Gregson
My sister Juli’s fifth wheel was anchored to the right of this picture. Gazing at this river, I counted my blessings and pushed back all my fears or worries. The Mumford & Son Outdoor concert we were here to enjoy was expecting 20,000 people. It was being called “The Woodstock of Colorado.” I don’t do well in large crowds. I’d gone for a little stroll and found a Bernie Sanders sticker on one of the telephone poles. I peeled it off and brought it back to our campsite.
This whole weekend was my idea and my doing. I live in Northern California and was in Canon City, Colorado for a 40th Abbey High School reunion. I threw in a three-day camping outdoor concert, on the tail end of my two-week stay. Why not? I’m overwhelmed by the beautiful, unexpected events, memories, and warm connections that occurred.
I returned to Colorado for so far many reasons. I wanted to see my family, to reconnect with Abbey High School friends that had helped me with details about high school life back in the 1970s. I was writing a novel about growing up in Colorado during that era. My memory banks were useless so I had to rely on old friends. So many that I reached out to were full of rich stories, anecdotes and suggestions of others to contact. I wanted to attend the reunion not only to thank these sweet souls but to celebrate and with them. What had started as a whisper on the banks of the Arkansas River, five years earlier had turned into a coming of age story with a life of its own.
The beginning of my book, River of Love was created in a 50-foot, Silver Stream camping trailer on Dillon Beach, summer of 2014. It helped me relive, appreciate and understand the many ways Love works in our lives. The miracles it performs stealthily, the unknowing promises of emotional ties that are long lasting… sometimes through eternity.
The truest lesson I learned through this process of writing a book is to not let fear win. Don’t listen to the itty, bitty, shitty committee. Push on, keep at it, even when those you’d hoped would help disappoint, buck up and press on. Voices need to be heard, stories need to be told. Inspiration comes from the simplest sources.
I was the lucky one, my strong independent mother modeled how to be “in the arena.” She went to work, attended college at night, raised four children. She was a Head Start teacher for 16 years, an advocate for Prisoner’s families, and helped those in need in the small community. She was political, a member of the Jane Jeffersons, the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) and a proud Democrat. It thrilled my mother to live long enough to see our first black President.
She would’ve loved Mumford & Sons and the homemade smothered green chile burritos we chowed down after the concert. She would’ve adored Bernie Sanders.