There and back again

I get that this title is overused. I promise it’s relevant.

It’s funny, I had grand plans to start this blog with my most recent trip to Cusco. But I was thinking about it last night and a different story came to mind.

Sun Valley, Idaho.

Of all the places I’ve been in my life this seems like a really odd one to start with. And I honestly don’t know why it’s what I picked, except it has a somewhat entertaining story attached.

Some things to know about Sun Valley, Idaho:

  • In spite of being in Idaho, it’s actually kind of a cool place to visit.
  • A lot of celebrities have summer homes there. Or winter homes maybe? It’s a ski town…
  • Ernest Hemingway died there. Or near there anyway.

I met 22 at work. We went on a terrible date where we walked around and got high then ate fish and chips. Then I had to drive him home because he couldn’t figure out the bus schedule to get to his parents’ house. I was 26 and new to the city and hadn’t had an easy time meeting people. Which is probably why we continued to “date” for a few months after that.

Right before I met him, 22 had gotten a back injurty – not in the paralyzed kind of way, just enough to develop a mild addiction to pain killers.

His parents had a place in Sun Valley and he decided to take a week or so away to deal with his injury. And he invited me to come with him.

Sun Valley has an air of authenticity to it that isn’t common in off-season tourist towns.  Breckenridge in Colorado for example, feels more like it exists only for tourists (and to be fair, it does).

That first day was perfect. The air was thin and chilly. It reminded me a lot of home. We were surrounded by mountains that had just the smallest bit of snow left on them.

He took me to all of his regular haunts. Because 22 had been coming to this town since he was a kid, most of the locals knew him by name. He was also one of those people who just acted like everyone should know him. And it worked for him.

The next day is kind of where things start going south.

22 was on a lot of pain killers for his back. He wasn’t supposed to drink but he liked to pretend he was well-versed in medicine and decided it was ok. We got pizza and beer at a place down the street then went back to the condo to “Netflix and chill”. Except while 22 was trying to set up the DVD player…I’m not sure what happened, he just kind of fell down.

He got up immediately and retreated downstairs, insisting that he wanted to deal with this alone. So I proceeded to watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy for the better part of two hours. I tried to check on him a few times but he’d locked the door.

He came back upstairs after awhile. Because he felt better and because he’d just gotten off the phone with his mom.

“My mom doesn’t know you’re here,” he said. “But I think she suspects. She’s driving out here with the dogs and she’ll be here on Friday. I don’t want her to think I lied to her. I think she might be bluffing. But I think the best thing to do would be to buy your flight home for tomorrow instead.”

I was devastated. My heart hit the floor. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t believe he was actually saying this, that this was real. But I also couldn’t let him see my pain. So I nodded.

And so I left. I cried in the airport shuttle the whole way to the airport. I’m sure the driver thought I was insane.

It’s funny looking back how devastated I felt. I didn’t even like the guy that much. He was too young for me and too arrogant. But he was self-assured in a way that made me trust him, that made me want to be kind of like him.

I found out later (much later –  we didn’t talk again for several months) that his mom did come out. And that everyone we’d met in town kept asking her about me. So she knew and it was all a waste.

And that’s the story of how I visited Sun Valley, Idaho.



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