Happy Holidays from the Housing Trust
What is a home? For some it is a physical space. For others it is the people they are surrounded by. For me, for the last fifteen years, it has been an idea.
I have lived in a lot of different places in my life: New York, DC, Chicago, Seattle, Zurich, and London. For a while, I traveled so much I would get hand-written notes on my birthday from airline CEOs – I knew it was a bad sign.
Through all of these ‘homes,’ I always found myself coming to Wyoming when I had time off. First it was the Wind River Range, and then the Tetons. I had a dream that one day, maybe I could live here with a family I did not yet have. Like a lot of life, how I got here is a reminder of just how serendipitous our journeys may be.
In 1996, a climber friend of mine named Phil Powers called to say he was supposed to be on an expedition to climb Khan Tengri in remote Kazakhstan and had to drop out – would I like to take his place and leave in a week? I wasn’t doing much, so jumped at the chance. The climb turned out to be disappointing due to really bad weather, but I shared a tent with a guy from Jackson named Christian Beckwith, who was endlessly amusing. He and I went our separate ways after the climb ended, and we lost touch. Five years later, I was halfway up a rock climb in red rocks called Frogland, when I shared a belay platform with a nice couple named Jarad and Stephanie Spackman. They were from Jackson, they told me, and I asked if they might know a guy named Christian, whose last name I couldn’t recall. This being the insular climbing world, with at best a quarter degree of separation, I was soon back in touch with my Kazakhstan acquaintance.
Over the next decade, even as my professional life took me from one ‘home’ to another, I kept coming back to Jackson to climb in the Tetons with Christian. His extra bedroom became more of a home than any other place I knew, except for maybe Lupine Meadows. Every year when we would start on that trail, I had that warm feeling of being where I really belonged.
Life often takes us down unusual paths. For me it was an unintended decade in Europe, with regular commuting to Jackson Hole. A few years ago, my wife and I got pregnant. We looked at each other and asked ourselves where we wanted to raise this miracle baby we had hoped might one day come. It did not take long for us to both leave our jobs, pack up our belongings, put our red Labrador in his crate, and fly half way around the world.
Yesterday we hung our holiday decorations above the fireplace and our now nine-month old baby Ava squeaked in joy as our dog, Babu, licked her face. The light was going down on the Tetons.
We all need a real home. What is more important? This holiday season, I am thankful that the Jackson Hole Housing Trust does the work it does.
-Alex Friedman, Housing Trust Board Member