“He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he’d never been before…”
– John Denver — “Rocky Mountain High”
John Denver was the soundtrack to my parents’ early love. They fell in love to his tenor voice and dulcet guitar strums at outdoor concerts and as city folk, dreamed big of hitting the road to go experience the same Rocky Mountain High. After they said their I dos, they hopped in a VW bus for a nine month camping trip, bouncing from national park to national park, diving off waterfalls, and greeting the 70s with open arms.
It meant that growing up, John Denver was played nonstop in my house. I knew the lyrics to “Leaving on a Jet Plane” before I learned the ABC song. Though one lyric always tripped me up and I remember asking my mother, “Mom, how can he come home to a place he’d never been before?”
“Well,” she said, “maybe it’s more of a soul home —a place he’s never been but a place his soul was always meant to be.”
So at my ripe old age of 7, I totally got what she was saying (I had no idea what she was talking about).
I didn’t get it until I left the country.
Then places like the Yucatàn happened for me. The first time I visited the the beautiful Peninsula, I was about the same age as Uncle John when he first set hiked into the foothills of the Rockies. I traveled alone without speaking a word of Spanish (does “hola” even count?). I strolled the cobble stone streets of Valladolid, stared mouth agape at the centuries old patinaed walls, and slowly watched sunsets turn to starry nights swinging from a hammock on the back porch of my palapa. Each town and Mayan ruin had a blend of mysticism and opulence, as if it held more stories than I’d ever be able to know in this one lifetime. The rhythm of life was unlike I’d ever experienced, where each day I somehow got more done, more words written, more steps taken, yet somehow felt more relaxed, less rushed, and more at peace. By the end of the first week, I felt like I had finally come home to a place I’d never been before.
Oh, now I get it.
Laura and I have been back almost every year since, putting down a few roots, getting to know the towns, the land, the people… I can’t wait to share this soul home with the feasters. We’re two months away and still have a couple spots at the table. Join us. Take a breath, hop in a cenote, drink a grapefruit margarita, and allow your inner mystic to dance under the stars.
Oh, and yeah, there’s gonna be some hammock time.