Conundrum in Colorado
Sunday morning, 16 August, 1964, Center, Colorado. I was up at dawn. I showered, helped Mom fix breakfast, did the dishes, changed my sheets, and tidied my room. It was seven-thirty, still two and a half hours until Annie would get to Alamosa.
I dusted off the Falcon, checked the tires, trimmed my mustache, and brushed my teeth: 8:15. I showered and brushed my teeth again: 8:45. “I better go,” I told Mom at 8:50. “That plane comes in early sometimes.”
The Falcon all cleaned up for the homecoming
“Yeah, you’d better,” she said. “It takes almost half an hour to get to the airport.”
I drove County Line Road at thirty miles an hour to keep from kicking up dust and still got to Alamosa twenty minutes early. The airport was small—one runway, one plane at a time, no coffee or gift shop, a waiting room the size of a doctor’s office.
I spotted the DC-3 circling in from the Sangre de Cristos before the ticket agent did. It zoomed past on the runway, slowed, and crawled back. Greeting this two-engine plane wasn’t new to me—I’d been first on the tarmac before, snapping photos of dignitaries as they stepped out onto the stairs.
This time, I had imagined a grand cinema reunion: We sprint across the tarmac toward each other. She flings herself into my arms. Her legs lock us into a licentious embrace. Our kisses go on forever.
Instead, I stood there like a doofus. “Damn,” I said. “It’s good to see you.”
She shook my hand. “Good day, sir. You look familiar—like an old buddy I used to have.” She eyed my fresh haircut. “Only he was a little scruffier.”
That was Annie, always quick with a smart-aleck retort. I managed a lopsided grin.
Sunday afternoon, 16 August, 1964, Center, Colorado. At home on the farm, we began like skiers inching up a mountain slope, anchoring each step so we wouldn’t slide backward. We chatted under the cottonwoods at Coffman’s pond, hiked the fields, and cuddled atop the neatly stacked alfalfa bales in the southeast forty.
Shadows of disquiet hovered over the farm
We followed the railroad tracks to the old cattle chutes beyond Marshall Produce, and by midafternoon, our words were tumbling out like boulders in the spring runoff. Sometimes speech became impossible because the thousands of saved thoughts log jammed in our brains.
Then we’d kiss. And hug. And off we’d go again—to Paris, Silverton, San Francisco, the Bavarian hills, London Bridge, a lake near Juliet’s house in Verona. And, oh yes indeed, she’d marveled at the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre, as well as the Dürer masterpieces in Munich.
She was the Annie of late May, but with ten thousand new freckles. She had been in the sun. The freckles enhanced her charm—she’d never been an alabaster-skinned Botticelli fit only for a pedestal. She pulsed energy and wielded her wit with epée-like precision. Best of all, she was as responsive to my every touch as she had been in June.
Nevertheless, beyond every joyous affirmation, shadows of disquiet hovered. Each time they swooped in, we artfully dodged. We didn’t acknowledge that marriage proposal of mine—or her non-answer. Nor did either of us dare mention his name, that summer companion of hers.