The blackened hills roll on for miles, an apocalyptic sight. It’s been a full year since the Carlton Complex Fire gutted this stretch of highway in the North Cascades. “For sale” signs line the road; people are desperate to forego a deserted land.
I remember hearing about Parry and his beloved cabin. My parents used to work with him years and years ago but they haven’t seen much of him and his wife Jan since they retired and permanently moved to their custom-built Lake Alta cabin in the 90s. Our hearts broke when we heard that the place was a total loss after the big fire.
We thought we’d make a short detour on our journey along the Cascade Loop, pay our respects to the land that meant so much to our friend. As we rolled along the path that led to where we expected another deserted plot and a fading “for sale” sign, we instead stumbled upon a white-haired man standing in the middle of a brand-new foundation—it was Parry, godfather to a land he refused to abandon.
Parry is an enigma to me, occupying the same plot of land after eighteen years, choosing to rebuild from the ashes. In an age when we’re building more and doing more for the sake of more, it’s a beautiful sight to see someone build something good, something that will last.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit envious of Parry and Jan’s quiet life in the hills, not needing anything more than a rich sunset and each other. Choosing a bond with the land rather than a futile connection with a noisy world.
I’m torn between the need to keep moving, to see new places and meet new people, and the desire to make a home, a place that will last. My mind is foggy with the ideals of my transient generation—the fear of settling becomes us. We change careers at the faintest hint of boredom. We pick up and move every couple of years, enchanted by the allure of new cities and neighborhoods. It makes me wonder, will our children know the quiet comfort of visiting their hometown, the crisp nostalgia of walking the streets in which they played as kids? When we’re always moving and never settling, we’ll never know the good in permanence.
I’m home for the holidays, and as I always do upon every return, I find old treasures in my childhood room. I don’t have the heart to take down the trophies, the corsages, the concert posters. It’s a living time capsule that reminds me of who I am and who I’ve always been. (I still love science fiction and rock music. I envy that girl who used to be so unashamed of the things she loved.) I’m thankful for those small reminders when I’m home. A home I get to return to when the noise of the world beckons me to forget from where I’ve come.
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