Flashback Monday: Doesn’t have quite the same ring as flashback Friday…
It rained all day Saturday, so our good friend Bridge came over to our house to enjoy several rounds of tea, a great documentary and three different kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a hell of a day.
We capped off the evening by asking each other questions from a boxed set called Table Topics. When asked: “What’s the most beautiful drive you’ve ever taken?”, I was flooded with memories of the two years I spent in Colorado. Those drives through the Rocky Mountains were some of the most significant of my life. I moved to Denver at 25 after having lived in NYC for three years, and was very unsure what I was doing there. It was by far the loneliest time in my life, which means I wrote a whole, whole lot. Here’s a little snippet.
Once you get through Dallas, 1-70 West is nothing but stormy Oklahoma skies and dusty Kansas plains. I’d almost forgotten how great it felt to drive with the windows down and the music cranked up, or how my personal vision of freedom could be defined by a full tank of gas. I spent two days in my car imagining what it’d be like, and when Denver first comes into view it’s much flatter than I’d pictured and under constant construction to accommodate the thousands of people swarming its neighborhoods each year, many like me, abandoning a busy life for a bigger slice of sky and fresh powder on the slopes.
They all told me I’d love Colorado. The air is dry and clean, the rent is reasonable and every night, just as the sun considers melting away behind the summit of the mountains, the sky turns a sweet, rusty pink and swallows it whole. As a young, unmarried woman I should be delighted to live in Denver. I should want to go on long hikes through ragged trails with handsome, laid-back outdoorsmen, their forearms chiseled like the rocks they climb and tanned skin as smooth and brown as desert sand. I ought to relish the unobstructed view from my rooftop deck and night after night of quiet observation and uninterrupted sleep in my safe, serene neighborhood. I should be comfortable here. I should embrace the impossible calm. It’s time to relax my shoulders and push a huge sigh of relief through my lips.
Instead I feel restless again. I feel lonely. Living in Colorado has been like dating one of its perfectly-tanned, impossibly fit residents; while appreciative of its startling beauty, I quickly lost interest after discovering we had little in common. Maybe it’s because I’m not the great outdoorswoman I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s because I can’t get a decent job and haven’t connected with my crowd. Maybe it’s because my only constant companion here has been an unsettling sense of boredom.
On a clear day I can see the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies from my living room window. Far away, the mountains are vague overlapping bundles of muted purple, like watercolors streaked carelessly on construction paper by a child. Only up close can you see the exposed splinters of rock, earth, and clay the color of dried blood, an endless maze of grooves and ruts chipped away by wind, snowfall and the relentless passage of time. There are days I drive to the mountains and lose my breath at their massive size and inarguable beauty. Days when inhaling lifts me into the sky and drops me at the front gates of my childhood summer camp in the Texas hill country, dwarfed by trees that smell like Christmas and fields of bluebonnets so thick they appear at first glance to be lakes. But most days I sit alone on a couch in my silent apartment, wondering if the West will ever be wild enough for a girl like me.