The summer of 2001, and almost half my life ago, I was invited to help my friends Amanda and Cathy move from Asheville, North Carolina to Telluride, Colorado. Our college friend, and my old super-crush, Jason, had moved there a year before. The thought of seeing him again, my four-day pass to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and my love of adventure were all reasons to say yes.
I never imagined the magic I would find in that box canyon, but those three weeks made such an impression on me.
All I have to do is think about being there, and I can conjure the pines and aspens and the crisp air, the slant of the sun, the chill of Bridal Veil Falls, and the sweet music.
My mind can trace the road into town as if I am flying on my bike — the meadow and the sidewalk tunnel, Baked in Telluride and the rock shop where I bought my Zuni turquoise ring.
I explored Wilson Mesa, Ouray, and Waterfall Canyon. I delighted in the mining history, the shadowed main street, the creek running through town.
I loved watching the town ready itself for the festival — smiling faces and music everywhere, and the baseball field and town park were turned into a campground and venue with a gorgeous natural amphitheater.
Sound checks and musicians — Béla Fleck and Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss and Chris Thile, and tears from being so moved by the music and all of the people.
I entered the festival’s writing contest: “What’s Happening on Your Tarp?” that won me press passes and front stage seats! Freshly brewed beer and organic food all day. Dancing and joy, passing the pipe, the feel of the fleece sweater when the sun faded behind the mountain. Everything seemed like gold.
The second to last day, I met a man (a different Jason) who upon meeting me asked, what is your biggest fear?
I told him probably jumping out of a plane.
He looked at me incredulously. He packed parachutes for a living.
At that moment, he was determined to take me skydiving. We spent 24 hours together. I thought I was in love. I bought a flight to visit him on September 12. Of course, because of the terrorist attack, that trip was canceled. Our love notes over the year didn’t take us very far.
I could have stayed forever. I have returned to Telluride a couple of times since that first time. It offered me a different type of magic.
The next year, I traveled for a month with a man who would soon be my ex. We hiked 14,000-foot mountains together, but each in our own worlds. We came to Telluride together, but he was into drums and bass and techno music. I left the festival and decisively called my mom. I asked her if I could come to stay with her for a few months. I stayed for a year.
In June of 2008, Amanda got married on top of the mountain at the Telluride Ski Resort. I flew out to celebrate, and I loved every second of being back in that box canyon. My friends old and new were begging me to change my flight and stay for Bluegrass. I could have stayed. I wanted to. But that summer solstice, I had a date with a guy named Jason back home. That Jason and I got married in 2010.
I hope to someday go back to share the magic of Telluride with him and our son.
© Samantha Lazar 2019