The Answer to the Question


“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind”

Bob Dylan


I  recall thinking that he was different.  He was a talker, a dealmaker, a rush-through-it-till-it’s-done sort of guy.  And he swept me off my feet.

There was a time that I thought I would not bother with dating.   I’d contemplated what life ahead would be like, alone.  Predictable.  No strings.  No obligations.   Only me to take care of.

Then I changed my mind.  Male companionship was all I needed.  No long-term relationships, no commitments, no marriage.  But it would be fun to date. 

And so, I spun the wheel of the on-line dating roulette.   And I won, big.

We met by phone in early November.  We talked for hours and hours and hours and I learned all about his life and his family and his work and his dreams.  And I told him what I had never told my ex-husband.  We laughed and we cried until the early hours of morning, even on weeknights. 

He flew a thousand miles to meet me three weeks later.  Six months after that, he arrived at my door with a pickup truck that we filled with my things and ourselves and then headed north to Montana.   I would spend the summer there.  To see what we thought.

I took to life with him.  We cooked, we read, we spent time with his dogs and his family.   And I took to his country, to the wide open big sky I had read about, the rugged terrain, the buttes, the wildlife and the solitude. 

He was busy with his work and since I knew very few people in the small town, I bought a bicycle and started spending a lot of my time on it.  I rode out from town, out from the middle of nowhere to the end of nowhere, to where I hoped to God’s sake I wouldn’t have a flat tire because I’d have to remember how to take the tire off of the rim and do it myself. 

If the wind was blowing it was usually blowing from the north, behind my back on the way out-of-town.   I would start energetically.  It was at the turn around, up the long hill past the point where they had found dinosaur remains not long ago that I would feel a tinge of resistance in the bicycle and my momentum would slow.   It was not the slope of the road that slowed me, it was the cross wind.  Each time I would get to the top of the hill, the wind swept across that valley with such passion that I would ease my pace, come to a halt and then turn around and head back into town.

I never did make it to the other side of that hump.  But from the perspective of that high point in the road I could tell that just ahead  the road dropped and rose like a roller coaster, curving and pitching and going up and down through the peaks and valleys that lie ahead as far as I could see.     There were no bike lanes along the highway and once you crossed the hump there was no shoulder at all.   Bicyclists are a rarity there.  Drivers are intent on getting from one place to another and usually the another place is a long, long way off.  So they drive fast, accustomed as they are, to the days of old when they had no speed limit to fetter them.  Now that there are speed limits, they simply exceed them.   Between the drivers and the twisty road and the wind and no shoulder to ride on, I always turned back at that point in the road.

One day while I was riding along and thinking about my life as I did when I rode,  I realized that I felt happier out on that bicycle or swimming laps in the old municipal pool than I did when I was with him.   I could feel a tinge of resistance in me and that the momentum was slowing.   I knew he was a good man and that I loved and respected him but I somehow knew that if I stayed past summer that the road ahead would get more difficult.  Slightly dangerous.  And hard.

The time in the mountains of Colorado when the aspen leaves dazzle us with their radiance has just passed.  If you are here in late September, you can drive up Guanella Pass and see huge masses of tall aspens and it seems like the air itself is golden as you drive through.    Continuing on down the road to the point where you have the big view, you will see a lone pine.  Dark and forlorn green, standing out in the middle of the brilliance.  Rounding the next bend you head back into pine forest and if you look to the left up about 9,000 feet there is a lone aspen in the midst of all the pines.  Gloriously gold, a flash of brightness within the darkness.

When I first met him, I thought he was different, like the aspen in the pines and the pine in the aspens.  He was different from what I was accustomed to–in the way he looked at life and the way he felt about me.    Then he asked me if I was happy and before I thought about it I said, “not like I should be.”   I knew I needed to leave.  And as I left him and that beautiful place, I cried.  For most of a thousand miles.    And as I do when I drive or ride or swim or walk, I thought.  By the time I reached familiar places I’d figured out that he had arrived in my life to gently nudge me.  To help me go further.  But I was not to go past the turnaround.  He was the pine in the aspens for me.  And I was meant to end it, to ready a space  for someone who would come later, my aspen in the pines.   

41 thoughts on “The Answer to the Question

  1. What a beautiful story, beautifully told. I’d like to think I was the one who provided the urging you needed to go forward with a dating life and to use to do so. Knowing you, however, I know you would probably have done so on your own, and you probably had many other “fans” urging you to do so!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this very personal experience with us. It is quite amazing how we do know what’s best for us even if we have to take a few twists and turns before we get there.
    I have never been to your part of the country but maybe someday.. and then I will see for myself the wonderful colours depicted in your great photographs. Yes, it is easy to see you are a photographer!

    • Thank you Judith. It seems like life is full of twists and turns but we do eventually get to where we need to be. And I hope you will visit Colorado and see some of our beauty.

  3. Better to be alone for the right reasons than to be together for the wrong reasons. At least you tried. If I had been in his place, I would have been quite put out. But then, I never would have done what he did in the first place. 😉

  4. Winsome Bella, or is it “Win some, Bella”, slowly working my way through your “back catalogue”.

    Your writing is evocative. Captivating. And not a false note in it.

    So very glad I found you. Correction. so glad that YOU found me and flagged me down.


  5. I believe it was another of Dylan’s songs that said “You don’t need a weather vane to know which way the wind blows.” You seem to manifest that in your experiences. I don’t know why all the references to meteorology in his songs but maybe it’s because so much of life is about weathering the storm.

    I was struck by your “1000 mile cry.” I had something similar happen driving home from a funeral for someone very close to me. It’s one of the most cathartic experiences of my life. Very bittersweet. I was almost sad when it was over because I don’t think I’ve ever been so in touch with my feelings.

    Another beautifully written post.

    • My 1,000 mile cry was one of my most cathartic experiences too. Fortunately I was traveling in good weather and in beautiful scenery so I was relaxed and inspired in spite of tears flowing. Thank you Big Al.

    • That comment seemed to bubble up from inside without me even thinking about it. I am prone to speaking before I think, and sometimes pay a price for that. But in this case maybe it was a good thing. Thank you holessence.

  6. This was sooo incredibly moving. The loneliness, the thinking that you didn’t want a relationship…then realizing you did…then finding someone who seemed like your soul-mate, but turned out to be one of those people who come into your life only for a short time, for a specific purpose. I can relate to this with certain people in my life that I thought were my destiny but turned out to be a vehicle to help me reach another destiny. Which I still don’t even know yet……

    Loved this. Thank you.

  7. What a beautiful story, filled with both a bit sadness as well as hope and insight. Love it. So low key and full of touching revelations. Written from the heart. And the photos are beautiful too, particularly the first – in my opinion. So stark and vivid – quite a contrast to the text and still naturally expanding the sentiment of the text.

  8. Poignant and hopeful at the same time. And, so powerful to see an example of intuition, of knowing the possibilities, and absence of such, and being able to act on one’s feelings, even when there is sadness in the decision.
    Thank you for letting us see a glimpse of this bit of your dating life.

  9. Ahhh, what a lovely story. How much knowledge you have gained, how wonderful you know that your heart is bigger and needs something else. Beautiful, lonely photographs, too. With exactly what you needed at the time. Yes, there is 1,000 mile cry, but it cleanses. How much sadder would it have been to have two lives derailed again, on those dangerous curves.

  10. Your writing is as beautiful as your photography! And your message to all who follow you is to live, love, and listen to the inner voices that come through. For now, you are your own best companion and your journey is particularly lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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