I was always a good student. I loved (and still do love) learning; in fact, I sometimes call myself a knowledge sponge because I just cannot get enough of learning new things. My idea of an exciting Friday night consists of curling up with a glass of wine in front of a documentary, one that usually consists of something on Egyptian Pharaohs or the mysteries of the underground catacombs of Paris or, if I’m feeling really adventurous, the physics of space and the theory of the Big Bang. I like to think that one day, when I’m old and gray, I’ll dominate at Trivia and my grand kids will think I’m a badass. That’s the dream.
Tangent aside, when I think back to the days of middle and high school, I can remember that my all-time favorite subjects to study were English, photography/art and of course, science (let’s not discuss math, is that okay? Because math and I, we don’t get along – we kinda broke up a long time ago and it’s best not to dig up the past). But it was history that I just didn’t like. Ugh. Just….no. Something about being forced to remember dates and the specific events that corresponded to them frustrated me, especially when your grade was determined based on how many of those dates and events you could cram into your head. I don’t take grades lightly; believe me, I beat myself up if I get a B on anything (I know, I know, grades don’t define me….). Therefore, I had to force-feed myself page after page of dates of wars, documents, politics, government theory and what day Betsy Ross sewed the American flag on; I was NOT going to let history end my straight-A streak. But it wasn’t my fave. Not. At. All.
Now don’t get me wrong, I 100% believe that if we humans are not taught to appreciate the past, we would be doomed to repeat our mistakes and history itself would be a never-ending vicious cycle of problems, the same problems, over and over again. So, I can appreciate and understand the need for a history requirement.
Now that I’ve just said all that, let me go against it all (well, kind of) by saying that I think, deep down, I am actually secretly in love with history….but ONLY the history that I choose to study. Truth is, I’ve come to realize that when you take away the pressures of tests and quizzes and grades, history is actually fun… there, I said it. When the choice in mine, I find myself just as enthralled with it as I would be with something like a TV series based on the Salem Witch Trials (I’m talking about an actual series: Salem on Netflix, go watch it). What am I getting at here? History is actually cool and we can be friends.
Some of my favorite history to “study” is something I never really appreciated until I got older: family history. Who doesn’t get excited about learning the backstories of where you came from? And I am one lucky duck. Why? Because my family owns a cabin, tucked inside the most gorgeous area of the Colorado Rockies, that is chalk full of, you guessed it, history. The cabin was built by my great grandfather (paternal) and it has been in our family ever since. It has these shelves inside that my uncle built that hold years’ worth of accumulated trinkets, diaries, photographs, novels, records (most of these records used to be my Mom’s) and so much more. Literally, the place is a treasure trove!
I’ve come to learn so much of my family’s history just from snooping around. You can really get a feel for the personality of a family based on the objects they valued enough to keep on a shelf for generations. Someone in my family at one point must have been fluent in Spanish because we have like a million poetry books in Spanish. We also have a lot of whiskey decanters and beer bottles and therefore I can only assume that my family must have been the life of the party. There is also this deer’s head mounted above the stone fireplace. I don’t believe in hunting myself but I can only imagine the story behind what it took to catch it. We have a guest book that has stayed up in that cabin since the early beginning for people to tell their stories and experiences while staying there. We could probably publish it and it would make a great book.
This is the kind of history I love – the history that hits you in the feels, the relatable kind that leaves you wanting more. Even the surrounding area is teeming with stories from the past. If only the trees could talk, I’m sure they could spend hours telling us tales. Every time I go exploring I cannot help but wonder how many other people walked the same path, touched the same trees, tripped on the same rock that you swore wasn’t there a second ago and looked at the same mountain views.
I feel connected to the past when I’m there at the cabin. It’s a place that feels like home. I always feel lucky when I can visit and I never hesitate to take a bunch of pictures so I can look back on them to help keep me grounded and remind me of where I belong. It’s almost like you can hear the aspens whisper to you as you walk along, “Once upon a time…”. If only history were like this back in school.