I have to be honest about something. I’ve been keeping a secret, and I think it’s time to come clean, even though the thought of admitting this here in our local newspaper makes me feel kind of embarrassed and rather guilty. So here’s the dirt: Even though I’ve lived in Telluride on and off for more than 20 years, this place still doesn’t feel like home to me. What, you say? But, Jen, this place is everything, it’s paradise, it’s perfection, it’s all about community, don’t you feel that, don’t you get that? Yes, friends, I do, I feel it! And let’s be clear, I love Telluride. I love the gritty, funky, wildly creative, shamefully beautiful Telluride. I also love the surrounding areas (Rico, Dolores, Ridgway, I’m talking to you), and waking up in this idyllic box canyon everyday fills me with gratitude and joy. Yes, Telluride, I have a crush on you, but you just don’t feel like home to me. So if Telluride, the town where I got married, bought a house and where I’m raising two kids isn’t home to me, then where is home, exactly?
This is a question we’ve been throwing around a lot lately in our family. Since we took off in 2016 and went traveling for a few years, we’ve lived in many places that for a time felt “homey,” but every time the question comes up, each of us always seems to have a different definition of what “home” actually represents. If you ask my husband Travis which place feels most like home, he gets a far-off glint in his eye and responds dreamily, “Chamonix,” recalling the five months we spent in the French Alps, a season of skiing that left Trav wistful and hungry for more. (Truth be told, I don’t think Chamonix actually represents home for Trav, I think he just aspires to be a full-time ski bum, and Chamonix seems like the best place on Earth to do it.) If you ask our 14-year-old Hudson where home is his reply is instantaneous, “Telluride.” This makes sense. Hud was born here and has always maintained a full-on love affair with this valley. When he was little, I couldn’t supply him with enough Tellurider shirts from the Toggery, and when we were traveling, Hud was definitely the most homesick. So what about me? I wish I could tell you that home for me is some far flung and exotic place we sailed to on our boat, like the surf town of Cabarete, Dominican Repulic, (definitely one of my faves) or Iles des Saintes, the little French islands in the Caribbean that smelled like flowers from a mile offshore. No, my definition of home is a place far more humble. Home for me will always be Winslow, the rather nondescript town in central Maine, where I was raised and where my folks still live. Winslow boasts a deceased paper mill, some bucolic farmlands and not much else. It’s not special in the general sense of the word, but despite all of my worldly intentions and wanderlust tendencies, Winslow is home and that’s just that.
So now this leaves my 10-year-old daughter Vivian, who can answer the home question in about a millisecond. Home for Viv is our floating domicile, our watery bungalow where we spent three years living in just under 250 square feet. Viv’s home is our sailboat, Moxie. Moxie is a Mason 43 (43 feet, 11 inch) navy blue monohull built in 1982 with two cabins and a solitary head (bathroom). Moxie was the home that saw us through some of our best and worst moments, our cozy safe haven that sheltered us through both screaming squalls and stunning sunsets. It’s no wonder that Viv counts Moxie as her primary home; she moved aboard when she was barely six and when we returned to shore when she was nine, a chunk of time that represents a third of her life and one that holds most of her memories. If boats have souls, and I believe that they do, then Moxie’s is an old, wise and nurturing one, one that sealed our family bonds with stainless steel polish, sunburns and saltwater. The sunny October morning in 2019 that we sailed Moxie to a boatyard in Maine and silently moved our possessions ashore was one of the most melancholy times I can recount. Since that day, Moxie has lived “on the hard,” meaning that she’s on land, held aloft by metal supports, covered in plastic during the harsh Maine winters. I know that she’s been missing those sunny Caribbean ports we explored, and I know that she’s been missing us, her little crew of four. Believe me, the longing has been mutual. But a new chapter in Moxie’s life is about to unfold, and we are brimming with excitement and gratitude. No, we’re not selling her (banish the thought!), we are putting her in the care of a sailboat captain friend who at this very moment is painting her hull, replacing her batteries and scrubbing her decks. He’ll get her back in the water where she belongs and use her as a floating home base in exchange for the much-needed TLC Moxie needs. He’ll restore her spark, and in the meantime, our crew will be plotting and planning for the time when we can get back aboard ourselves. Of all of our homes, Moxie is the one that holds the most special and spunkiest place in our hearts. If home is where the heart is, then Moxie beats in ours every single day. And she’s a home we can’t wait to return to.