Dear Dirtbag Momma,
My husband and 3 young boys are stranded. We’ve landed in a place far away from where we grew up. Where are all the lakes and flat land? It’s a strange world out west… where you get out of breath just going for a neighborhood walk. Where your kids learn how to ski before they can dress themselves. Out in the boonies and who knew there were so many forest roads? Where my boys can chase lizards, fall on a cactus, pee in a bush, and dig in a snow bank in June. And then I wonder… where have I been all my life? Do I now have a new home?
-Unsure if I’m still stranded in Salt Lake City
Sounds like you have a bad case of The Mountains. There is no known cure.
Symptoms include saying ‘howdy’ and ‘gnar’ in the same conversation; happily driving at least two hours to go anywhere; a sudden growth of gear piles, children who exhibit symptoms of exploration; and the unexpected purchasing of overpriced real estate. While not usually terminal, the condition may persist for the rest of your life, whether you live in the mountains or not. May God have mercy on your bank account, on your storage space, on your holiday travel plans, and on your ability to make small talk with anyone who doesn’t understand that weather isn’t actually small talk.
I picked up this card 13 years ago at the Denver Art Museum opening, and it’s been pinned in various places since then. I think the quote sums it up about right:
“Once this country gets inside you and takes hold…you may never fit in anywhere else.”
Good luck, Stranded, and enjoy the ride!
To send a letter to the Dirtbag Momma, email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. All letters are published anonymously with your chosen signature. Some advice might even be serious- just imagine if Dear Abbey, Backpacker Magazine, and Scary Mommy had a beautiful, sarcastic, lovechild…