They say any good relationship requires some space. No marriage can be successful if you lose your sense of individuality, and it’s easy to get sick of your most favorite person if you can’t do at least one thing alone now and then.

In an effort to maintain a healthy balance with Evergreen, I make attempts to take space here and there, and in my opinion, there is no better time to do so than somewhere around July or August. By then, we’ve been together so many months out of the year, the longest months, really (and with quarantine and the basic events of 2020, that time has felt expanded).

All this togetherness and it’s the little things that have really started grating on my nerves. Wouldn’t you know, Evergreen totally squeezes the toothpaste tube from the middle, bottlenecking the toothpaste as much as she bottlenecks traffic at the lake and the stoplight into downtown. Evergreen never cleans up messes—I nearly stepped in elk droppings walking across the lawn to yoga the other night. And Evergreen just always insists on controlling our schedule. Everything is on Evergreen’s time, and if Evergreen doesn’t feel like having a lunch spot open on a Monday, Tuesday or  Wednesday, then she just doesn’t. End of story.

Plus, I get frustrated giving so much attention to this relationship and then having to share it with a large percentage of the Denver metro population, not to mention the out-of-towners who come around on the weekends too. I mean, an open relationship is one thing, but how open do we have to be here? Does my commitment to Evergreen mean nothing? Does Evergreen even like all these cyclists or does she just like messing with me?

I leave Evergreen to do what she needs to do with the summertime tourists, and I take some space, normally returning (mostly) ready to start fresh and finish out our year together.

This summer, with fewer options to really get away, our family decided to find somewhere we could have the most space, distance from our town, as well as distance from other people. (Sometimes I wonder if I really need space from Evergreen or if I just need space from Evergreen’s residents—er, relatives.)

We started out in the Grand Targhee National Forest the second-to-last weekend of July because a client of ours needed some representation at an adventure lifestyle expo. We were socially distant, though not entirely removed from people, and sometimes all you really need is a reminder that there are other people and places out there. Maybe Evergreen would get jealous knowing that she’s not the only little town with creeks and mountains and even cowboy-inspired wooden boardwalks. (You know, outside of Jackson, you can actually walk those planked sidewalks without fear of your foot falling through… I’m just saying.)

It’s the oldest tactic in the book. We all used it in junior high or high school, and some of us in our allegorical relationships with our small towns as a means for working out issues with setting down roots. You want so-and-so’s attention, so you flirt with what’s-his-face instead. Honestly, it’s foolproof. No sooner had we awakened on our first day at the resort, fresh-faced and ready to mingle with Targhee and Driggs and Victor and Jackson, who should come walking across the blacktop toward us? Someone we know from Evergreen.

I mean, it was seriously so desperate, this reach across state borders to woo me, and it wasn’t like Evergreen sent out the big guns or anything. In fact, the representative was equally disgruntled with the town, even more enamored with the bigger skies of Wyoming. But once he started trashing Evergreen, her businesses, her people, I thought, “HEY! You can’t talk about my town that way! My town is a great place!”

Then I saw the efforts for what they really were. It wasn’t a suffocating attempt to control me, but a reminder that, even when we get sick of each other, Evergreen and I are in this for the long haul. Sure, I wish Evergreen would stop flaunting about to Denverites, trying to lure them with her cooler temperatures and numerous pines like some cheap tease. At the same time, Evergreen is probably appalled at my lack of grace toward people. I really should be more generous and welcoming and remember, first and foremost, that the attention Evergreen attracts really only helps us out. I want Evergreen’s businesses to thrive and I want her to feel appreciated.

Just as I’d hoped, I returned to Evergreen feeling refreshed and renewed in our love for one another. Sometimes all it takes is a little space.