Home is where you think I am | AspenTimes.com

Home is where you think I am

Tony Vagneur
Aspen, CO Colorado

It’s not a big deal, like finding out you died last week, but it’s similar. I’ve been informed that I no longer live here ” in fact, I haven’t been living here for several years. News to me, but it may explain some things to those of you who already think I’m unconscious. It’s not worrisome, for I’ve never seemed to live where some people think I should, but up until now, it’s always been a local issue.

I’ve kept up appearances in the Emma area for the last 20 years, but many people are convinced I’ve never lived anywhere but Woody Creek, where the last Vagneur ranch was sold in 1987. An acquaintance caught me coming out of Chaparral (an old family outfit) the other day, where my daughter actually does live, flagged me down and said something to the effect of, “I thought you lived farther up the road.” It’s difficult to argue with such amorphous certainty. If I still stopped at the Tavern most days like I used to, it might make sense, but even that watering hole doesn’t cross my path much anymore.

Anyway, to get on with this story, a very good rancher friend of mine from Texas took her visiting 30-something daughter to lunch in the big city this past summer, where the younger woman ended up in conversation with a gentleman at the next table. The man was from Minnesota, and took great interest in the fact that the daughter lived in Colorado. He mentioned he knew a man who used to live in Aspen, which of course, piqued my friend’s interest, and before you could say, “What the hell,” my name was being tossed about the table. With unwavering reference and the self-important satisfaction of one who believes he knows his subject well, the man casually offered that I had been living in Stillwater, Minn., for the past several years.

There’s no argument that I have been to Stillwater numerous times, a beautiful city, at least the old part along the Saint Croix River, and if I had to live there, could. If you hadn’t guessed already, I followed a woman up there, a world-class artist, who wanted to get back to her native roots with the supposition that her creativity would benefit. Her wild, spirited heart took hold like the emerging shoots of early spring and her already excellent work began to flourish, leaving absolutely no doubt that she made the correct move.

I used to wander up there every month or so over the course of an autumn and winter, mostly to feel her warmth, but also to enjoy the northern latitudes. I was there enough to have some of the local farmers take notice and wouldn’t I like to, “come out and visit the place?” Never had the time, really, which I regret. My lady friend had a loft condominium that would make most of those in Willits look like starter homes. It was right on the Saint Croix, with a quiet view that could have been to die for, with room, room and more room. If I really did live in Stillwater, that’s where I’d be, with a big grand piano looking out over the dark river and my trusty typewriter within reach, just in case I felt an urge to hammer the alphabet.

Alas, I haven’t seen that woman for some time, not since we quit seeing each other, so I can’t say if Stillwater has changed much. But more and more, I find myself wanting to go up North and see how I’m doing.