Richard Carnes: You can come back home to Vail Valley
The holiday season is a bit different around the house this year.
My oldest son, after graduating from film school on the East Coast and starting his own business in La-La Land on the West Coast, has returned home.
Not just for the holidays, but for the time being, which in his particular case means the unforeseeable future.
Life was the proverbial feast or famine in Hollywood, where he could work like a dog for 20 straight days and then spend the following 30 twiddling his fingers nervously over the next round of rent.
Apparently, prices in L.A. make Vail look like Gypsum.
With national unemployment rising inward like a giant wave from both coasts, he reached his breaking point around Halloween and decided to head back to the Rockies.
He’s been home about a month now, and after spending three and a half years away from where he was born and raised, has adapted much quicker than I imagined. A steady paycheck and a few new reattachments to old friends have helped shape his fresh outlook on life.
He caught me off guard the other day while describing an afternoon epiphany at work.
“I was taking a break,” he said, “just staring out across the river, looking at the new snow on the mountains, and I kept closing my eyes and listening.”
“Why weren’t you working?” asked his idiot father, who doesn’t know when to just shut up and listen.
Ignoring me (my wife sets great examples), he continued.
“And all the sudden I realized, why in the world did I leave here in the first place? Why would I want to leave all of this?”
He was slowly spreading both arms outward, palms up, while admiring the beautiful view outside our house.
“There’s no traffic, no daily shootings, no daily freeway pile ups, no having to lock every door every minute of every day.”
“No rent to pay, no utility bills, no laundry,” I countered.
No, not really. I didn’t say anything at this point.
“No having your hopes reach the sky one minute only to have them come crashing down the next because of fake people making fake promises about fake jobs.”
I began envisioning walking, talking, breast implants (this is, after all, L.A. he was talking about), but kept it too myself.
The longer he rambled, the bigger I smiled. He continued on for another minute or so, and once he finished listing his negative life experiences (and we wonder where cynicism originates?), he turned back toward his father.
“Seriously, Dad, why did I leave?”
I knew it was a rhetorical question, but sometimes even they need actual answers. I told him he already knew, down deep, exactly why he left, just like almost every other kid ever born and raised just about anywhere.
We all know one can’t truly experience the world without first leaving the nest.
Nowhere is it written that you cannot return to the nest, or at least the same tree, and doing so is an admission of a natural desire, little else.
And it’s not that I secretly wanted my boy to come home, but in this unrivalled economic climate I truly believe his decision was both mature and wise, not to mention it has made the year for his two younger brothers.
Besides, what a statement his words convey about the good fortune of being born and raised here in Happy Valley, USA. He voiced an emotional joy that I think only a parent can understand, but all can appreciate.
No matter how you look at it, it’s one hell of a Christmas present.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.