Grays and Yellows, With a Splash of Red

Grays and Yellows, With a Splash of Red

I moved to Denver. I sold some stock and bought some furniture and moved into a cute little apartment with brick walls and wood floors and an extra skinny door that somehow has something to do with the fact that a century ago the building was a bordello.

The apartment is in the Highlands, or Highland, as Wikipedia insists it is called, or East Highland or Lower Highland or LoHi. The identity of the neighborhood appears to be as complicated as my own. I’m told 57,000 people live here. They are all at Little Man Ice Cream at the same time, and they all park their cars on my block.

I bought a Felt Verza Speed 20 bicycle, more befitting a city dweller than my Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Deluxe mountain bike. Dual suspension isn’t necessary on paved bike paths, though it does have disc brakes. They come in handy. Did I mention 57,000 people live here?

Cathy and I have been together 44 years. Everyone has an opinion about what we should do, as if they had been married 44 years. We usually listen politely before reminding them that they don’t know shit about what is good for the two of us. We will figure this out on our own, thank you very much.

A couple of years ago our marriage therapist retired. We were his last clients on his last day. I’m not sure we were what he wanted his last therapy memory to be. I asked, “How many couples are willing to work this hard?” He didn’t hesitate when he answered, “One percent.” “How many couples get this far?” “One percent, which is what makes this so tragic. ”

All of our therapists used the word tragic. We asked them to stop. It is not a helpful word. What you call tragic we call life. I didn’t ask for this. Neither did Cathy. At least I got something for it. I got an authentic life, the loss of depression, peace inside my own skin, but Cathy only experienced losses none of us can truly understand.

My apartment is decorated in grays and yellows, with a splash of muted red here and there, which draws your eye to the brick outer wall. There is a picture of the Denver nighttime skyline on one wall, the view I would have if it weren’t for the building across the alley from my window.

I wanted to bring my framed print of Monet’s The Red Kerchief from the house, but the picture was too big, so I ordered a smaller print. It is the first thing I see in the morning, a winter scene of a woman walking outside a cafe window as she glances longingly into its warmth. The painting is of Monet’s wife, Camille, who died in 1879 at 32 years of age. Monet kept the painting with him until his own death in 1926.

My apartment is directly above the lobby of my church. I hear the worship team practicing early each Sunday morning. I add the third part to the two-part harmony as I prepare for the day. The rest of the week my morning preparations are without melody.

There are many people who love me well. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be for people who are not so loved.  The co-pastors at my church have been wonderful. My friend Jen checks in and we get together and compare notes about what it means to be someone who cannot unknow what they know. Christy invites me to dinner and provides long hugs and thoughts I need to hear. David loves me with the love that accompanies 35 years of deeply held friendship. My children and their spouses are loving and supportive, but they have their own lives to lead, filled with their own challenges.

My best friend is Cathy. That has not changed, nor is it likely to change. She is a person of great compassion, extraordinary insight and keen intelligence.

I have so much generous support on this road of switchbacks and false summits and the occasional tranquil meadow. We were created for relationship, as God, Jesus and the Spirit teach us. I do not have to walk alone outside a cafe window, red kerchief pulled tightly around my  face. I walk arm in arm with many who love me well. I am blessed.


6 thoughts on “Grays and Yellows, With a Splash of Red

  1. Your words make me cry. Perhaps because they touch my own loneliness, loss and journey … And isn’t that the way it goes?

    A wellspring of peace, love, faith, clarity and increasing sunshine to you and yours as you traverse new territory.


  2. What a wonderful neighborhood–I love Highlands! It’s good you are in a place that is all yours. As for you and Cathy, and your 44 years together–it’s no one’s fault and the good memories can never be taken away, nor your children and grandchildren. Blessings, my friend!


  3. Paula, lovely to hear words of honest appreciation for your good wife and all those around who show you love.
    It is wholesome and refreshing to hear of two people who get what marriage vows actually mean in real life. Facing trans issues is maybe as hard as it gets but you both realise that the Spirit can inspire you both to accommodate it.
    When life appears as a bucket of shit it is not being seen through the eyes of God. (a theological turn of phrase.)
    I can only wish both of you every grace. The fruits of your efforts benefit us all.
    And disc brakes show you are a woman of discernment.
    Ride well and safely.


  4. I love you Paula and am so proud of your commitment to honesty. You have taught me much as I have sought to be honest. It has been a hard road. I have lost many friends but God has given me new friends. I am blessed with a new spouse who adores and cherishes me for me, for which I had never known in my prior life. For this I am grateful. D in Cinci.


  5. This one breaks my heart. I wish both of you the best as you both roll forward in life the universe and everything else. And to your point, you are blessed with love-some who stand for truth and authenticity are not so lucky! Peace to you both! Margo in Cinci


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