I’m going to get a little personal here. Just a little.
As I was nearing the mountainous borderland between Colorado and New Mexico, I began to reflect.
When I was a little boy in Clovis, New Mexico, my mom and dad divorced. I saw my dad off and on until he moved, I think for work. My Mom met Mike French, who she later married. My ‘real’ Dad, who I started calling ‘John-dad’, signed away his parental rights. Mike French adopted me, and he has been my dad since I was about six or seven years old. He’s been a good dad. He never ever treated me like anything other than his son. He took us all over the country, and to Europe, and he finally retired in Upper Michigan, where I still live.
John-dad had remarried also, and had a little girl. So I have a sister a few years younger than me. I met my sister when I was twenty-one. When I was twenty-seven or so, my sister put John-dad and me in contact with each other. I flew down to New Mexico to meet him in 1998. We hit it off, and had a blast. That was the last time I had been to New Mexico
I’ve built a relationship with John-dad again. I don’t know why John-dad signed away his parental rights. I don’t know what he was going through. He has his side of the story, and my mom has her side. It doesn’t matter. It was over thirty years ago. This is now.
Now, my son and I were cruising down Interstate 25 in southern Colorado. We were mere minutes away from the state line, heading towards the Raton Pass. We were climbing and winding our way through the mountains. My heart was racing. This was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. This was a return to my roots.
Finally, we drove under an overpass. Bolted to the rail on the overpass was a tiny sign: Welcome to New Mexico.
We made it! I was home again. I could hear trumpets. There were fireworks. There were angels singing. Not really. I did cry a little, though.
As we dropped into New Mexico from the hilly Raton Pass, we were suddenly treated to a fantastic view. It felt as though we could see the whole state! And off in the distance was something we hadn’t seen much of since Wisconsin: rain!
About a mile past the actual state line, on a small patch of dirt and trash on the side of the highway, there a much larger sign that heralded our arrival. Even though I wasn’t supposed to, I pulled onto the side of the interstate- OK, I can be a little crazy! It’s a very ugly sign, but it had a beautiful message:
Soon, I’d be with my other dad. The Boy would meet his other grandpa…
…and Billy the Kid.
…and get a scare in the graveyard!