As we drove away from my old home, I pointed out another house on the County Road.
"Do you want a picture of it?" Scott asked. "It looks pretty cool with that old truck parked there!"
So, he pulled over on the empty gravel road and I took a picture of this old abandoned house with its boarded up and broken windows, cracked stucco, the old teal truck, and a rusting clothesline pole.
I can only imagine the stories this house could tell.
More memories surfaced as we drove back to Durango.
"Wow, that sign said, "Oxford City Limits". Ha, this is actually a city?! I never knew it was anything. There the two buildings that make up Oxford, and it doesn't look like they're even occupied anymore. I honestly never knew this stretch of country between Ignacio and Durango had a name! But I knew that "Oxford" was a meeting place sometimes. My Mom would say, "Ok, I'll meet you at Oxford" when we were going to stay with the Raboins or they were coming to our house. It was a good midway point."
Then I saw the Florida Mesa Church of Christ. And I just had to see it.
Is it weird that one of my strongest memories as I walked up those steps was of the taste of communion bread?? I wasn't baptized yet, but sometimes Mom would let us eat the extra communion bread, after Sunday morning services were over. Man, I loved that.
I showed Scott where the boys and their friends had played football after every single service in the parking lot.
I marveled at the pine trees still being there, and reminisced over gathering pine cones.
We walked behind the building to see the propane tanks where Lisa and I would sit and talk. We felt like we were so cool and mature....the boys had to play games and be wild. We were civilized, sitting and talking. We were 6, 7, 8, and then 9 years old....sitting on a propane tank, haha! But hey, we were COOL, and behind the church was OUR spot. I don't remember much of what we talked about, but a great deal of my side of the conversation probably revolved around Acie Patterson. Haha!
Standing there looking at the orange brick that looks exactly the same, I thought about our tearful departure from this building when I was 9 and a half years old. I didn't understand much about why we couldn't go there anymore. Something about divorce and remarriage, and people not agreeing on it. But I clearly remember dashing to our green-and-white conversion van after the last service— when Dad announced that we would be going to the 4th Avenue congregation from then on—and I remember crying and crying. My heart was broken. Mom came to the van. She tried to comfort me. Said I could still be friends with Lisa, that we would still get together and spend the night. But I knew it would never be the same again. And even though we tried our best, and our moms made the effort to continue the sleepovers....it wasn't the same as seeing her 3+ times a week.
A year or so after that, Lisa's family moved to Arkansas.
It felt like a pretty tragic time in the life of a kid.
But still, before the break in fellowship, there had been so much love in this building. I knew everyone, and they knew me and talked to me. They were like our extended family: like aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. And one of the elderly brothers gave us candy after services. There were the golden hymn books, and I would trace the metalic-embossed title during lessons that I wasn't old enough to really follow. My favorite song was number 590 'Heaven Came Down'. I loved singing from that book.
By the time I got done reminiscing at the church, we were getting hungry. I already knew where I wanted to go for lunch.
I had been thinking about these tacos for months. They are so simple, not fancy at all. But somehow, the blend of flavors in the meat and the magically soft-but-not-greasy corn tortillas just made an impression on me as a kid. And I've always thought, "Those were some of the best tacos I've ever had!"
So, to Kachina Kitchen we went!
Now, to be honest, I had a bit of trouble finding it. Oh, it was in the same location as last time I visited it, all those years ago. But I was expecting to be able to see it from the highway, right across from the mall. So, when I didn't see it, I typed it into my navigation, and we eventually realized that it was BEHIND a row of newly-developed buildings! Totally hidden. We found it, though, and here it is, in all its glory!
The tacos DID live up to my expectations, and tasted like 1999. I gobbled them up, thinking, "Why can't I figure out how to make these?!"
Next up were some less important destinations, but I still wanted to see them, to scratch that itch of curiosity.
Note: these are not the typical places on a sight-seeing tour of Durango. They have very little historical significance. Except to me.
Kroegers! We went inside. It was all remodeled, and nothing seemed familiar. But back in the day, this was where we went anytime we needed tools or supplies for a home improvement project. Now the swankiest Home Depot you've ever seen is on the end of town. But I was happy to see Kroegers still plugging along, fighting against the national competition.
Next door to it is Papa Murphy's. This place revolutionized our lives, and I'm pretty sure Mom has fond memories of it, because it cut her workload down considerably. See, she had made a tradition that was AWESOME: Sunday night pizza. Before Papa Murphy's came to town, she made our pizza—made the whole wheat crust thick in a cookie sheet pan, and the pieces were square. That's how Dad liked it. Later she invested in a set of 'real' pizza pans that were round. As I type this, I can honestly remember the tastes of those pizzas. We did all the toppings: Canadian bacon and ham; pepperoni; supreme with veggies, ground beef, and pepperoni. We really did have feasts for every meal of the week, but there's just something festive and special about pizza!
Then this little take-and-bake place came to town, and suddenly it was all so easy: call the pizza orders in before evening church services, then pick them up on our way home, pop them in the oven, and 15 minutes later, voila, delicious pizza. Our favorite was the Chicago, which was basically two pizzas stacked on one another, with something like a pound of cheese and huge chunks of sausage.
We knew these weren't as good as homemade. But hey, they're pretty stinkin' good. In fact, about once a month, I still frequent the one next to my house now!
In the same parking lot was City Market! Again, it made me quite pleased that, even though there is a huge Walmart and an Albertsons, City Market, where we always shopped, is going strong! Again, the inside was updated. But I told Scott about buying flats of petunias (the velvety deep purple ones smelled the best), right there on the side of the building....the space which is now occupied by Redboxes. I shared about the time when I was 4 or so, and I decided it would be a good idea to run down the aisle. I think I MIGHT have had my eyes closed. Anyway, I ran smack into a huge, perfectly-stacked display of mayonaise jars. Remember how they used to do displays like that? It was like 300 jars stacked up 5 feet or so. Oh, and they were glass jars. Yeah.....I knocked the whole things down. Glass and mayo EVERYWHERE. Amazingly, I didn't get cut. But, I know Mom must have been mortified.
"Clean up on Aisle 8." ha!
Then we stopped at the 4th Avenue Church of Christ, where it appears they are having work done. This is where we went to church from the time we left the Mesa until we moved, so 7 years. So many good people here, and I've kept up with many of them.
This is where I met Holly, who became my best friend after Lisa moved. She didn't go to church here; they lived in Albuquerque. But her grandparents worshiped there every service, and she came to Durango pretty often to see them. Those were amazing, priceless times of fun when she would come and stay at my house. We would spend several days in a row together, a few times per year, staying up WAY too late, giggling and talking. Sleeping in sleeping bags in the front yard, looking at the stars as we talked on and on, and wondering exactly how late it was....then freaking out because we saw light on the horizon (from Ignacio) and thought we had stayed up until dawn and it was the sun rising.....in the south!
Endless memories surround this building:
Being baptized in the baptistry at age 11.
The Huffs with their 3 kids that became our very close friends.
The weird little black bugs with red spots that invade the 100-year-old building periodically, despite extermination efforts.
The small helicopter seed pods that fell from the big maple tree in the foreground. We would pick them up and spin them, seeing who could fly theirs the farthest.
Playing touch football in the street after services. This time, I joined in, and had a blast doing so. I was a decent receiver, and pretty good at dodging my opponents.
And finally, we found what used to be the Durango Library. Evidently there is now a new, fancy, nice library in town, and this building has offices in it. I didn't bother to go see the new one. This was the library of my childhood, and here I would happily walk through the front door, go down a couple steps to the half-basement, turn right down a hall, then left into the Youth section, and proceed to check out stacks of books every couple weeks. It was one of my most favorite places. I actually still remember where some of my favorite book series were located against the wall with small windows up high. It's a pity all of that is gone now, and time has moved on.
And, with this last glimpse of good times remembered, I concluded my journey to the past. After this stop, we began exploring places and sights that I had never seen before, even though I lived here until I was 16.
The new adventures that we had in my hometown will continue in a new series entitled 'Durango and Beyond'.
Thanks for reading, and follow my blog to check out more of our trip to beautiful Durango, CO!
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