regret your mistakes
from the past...
value them as
lessons for the future.

The Summit of My Life

The car turned a corner, on a road, with a bridge, over a creek, and I saw a house, an old house, with fading white-wash siding, a cherry red roof, a high brick-red chimney and a porch the color of the roof. Despite its age it held the beauty of a traditional Aspen, Colorado, house situated perfectly on a large, snowy mountain. Then, I saw a man, standing on the front porch waving erratically at a car. Our car. My heart began to beat faster and faster. I knew at this moment, I would see my grandfather face to face, for the very first time. I began to think negative thoughts. What if he doesn't like kids? What if he doesn't like me? What if he thinks I'm ugly or bratty? My daddy's eyes glanced into the rearview mirror and saw the distressed look I held on my face. He calmed my quick emotions by telling me that his father was a kind, loving man. Then my mother started pumping me full of "the rules" and made me just as nervous once again. Mind your manners, say please and thank you, don't pick your nose, and be very sweet and nice. I ran those back through my mind and confused; mind my thanks you, say please and pick your nose, and try not to be sweet and nice.

I had only talked to Grandpa Bailey over the phone. My daddy and he had a good relationship, yet lived so far apart. Still, I felt it was no excuse for making me wait until I was five years old to actually see him.

Daddy's mom, who I called Grandma Ricki, was divorced from Grandpa Bailey and I saw her all the time- she lived right by us. She never spoke highly of my Grandpa, yet I could never understand why. She said he was an alcoholic or something (like I really knew what that was).

The car stopped on the gravel - covered driveway. I looked all around me and saw snow, horses and ice. I saw the most spectacular mountain my eyes have ever met. My mom said it was called Mount Sopris. Mount Sopris, my new favorite mountain, although I didn't remember having an old favorite. My daddy opened my door and the smell of dry, freezing cold air with stiff pangs of horse manure and chimney smoke filled my nostrils.

The gravel loosely crunched under Grandpa's huge hiking boots, and I could smell his mixtures of Old Spice cologne, stiff vodka stench and the potent aroma of cigarette smoke slowly creeping into my nose. He picked me up with a huge grin on his face. He said hello to me in his scratchy, strong yet generous voice. I felt his pilled flannel shirt under my fingertips as he pressed his unshaven, gruff face into my cheek and just held me. With a tear in his eye, he told me what a beautiful, precious child I was and how he was so utterly sorry that he had not seen me sooner; he wished he could have had much more than just pictures in his hands at Christmas time.

I later found out we were there for a wedding. Grandpa Bailey was marrying a new lady- not Grandma Ricki. I asked my daddy if she was that alcoholic thing too. He laughed and said he didn't know, but wanted to know who told me that. It wasn't a question though- he already knew.

I was the flower girl for the wedding and I felt so special in my light blue satin dress with its pretty cream-colored sash around my waist. Every time I reached into my flower petal basket, the fragrant aroma dispersed itself into the air and I looked down at my little white 'Buster Brown' slippers that brought me closer to the altar and became mesmerized by them. It was all I could do to keep focused and concentrate without my heart beating so fast that I would've cried.

To this day I still remember everything: the car coming around the corner, his fragrant Old Spice and rough prickly face, our adventures together, yet most of all the wedding and the meaning it held.

In all symbolism and metaphorically speaking, I viewed the wedding as a sort of "re-birth" of two souls joining each other. The next time I returned to Aspen was for his funeral; I was 14 years old. I hardly knew him, saw him only once, yet loved him dearly. For some reason I could not move my fingertips from his cold forehead. Despite the coldness of his stiff body, the room was warm, filled with mourners and tears. I had never actually seen a dead person. Regardless, I couldn't release myself from the stiff stare my eyes held over his fragile body, and later, as his coffin was slowly being lowered into its plot on Mt. Sopris, I reflected deeply on the last ten years of my life. I had only seen this man once in my life with barely enough years on me to vaguely remember him. Still, ironically, I remember everything as if it were just yesterday. I never realized how significant this place, Aspen, Colorado was to my life- back then, more recently and even now.


a wizened civilization
almost or complete
moving its descendants
as intertwined necklaces
down the hierarchy of
impresario factotums
still, too remote to enter
a world of
exclusive discovery and
oak-studded Portosan hilltops
and its ubiquitous people,
are intriguing folded like origami,
then carefully placed into
a plump cocoon
while feeling as if idling trucks
were aerodynamically being
pushed against the staccato shock
of acceleration
this multinational global entity:
this place, is "Silicone Alley"

Shelby Sterrett

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