Life has changed a lot for me here in Colorado, and out of it came a new blog! Please visit Just So Dandy for updates.
Before leaving California this December, my old employees/best friends pitched in and bought me an iPad Mini for work. With my new job here in Colorado, they thought it would help hurl me into the new year, organized and paperless. They were wrong. I forget it at home, I don’t like to write my calendar on it, when I do remember to take it with me, I forget to charge it. It’s been two months, and I’ve downloaded like six apps. And a ton of books.
After spending four plus years in the CSU system, studying English, being able to choose your own reading material is uplifting. What, I don’t HAVE to read this Shakespeare? I don’t NEED to study Plato? Shut the front door. Having the ability to choose your own literature–it’s liberating, it’s relaxing, it’s fun. And with this new little machine, I can carry all my new loves right into bed with me, and the light doesn’t even bother Kris.
Recently, I finished reading, “The Cove,” by Ron Rash. Wow. If you’re looking for an amazing story, I highly recommend this novel. From the third-person narrative, it tells of a lonely girl during World War I, printed with what most of her towns people believe to be witch-marks. Her parents have died, her hero brother is planning to leave her, and it seems that her life is about to slip quietly away, into the dark of the Appalachians. In the first few pages, the reader hears music with Laurel as she sits at the creek, the only bit of sunlight left on her families dying land, cleaning her brothers clothes. I won’t give the story away, but those looking to learn a little bit about American history, and the follies of human nature, read this novel.
Growing up, we always had dogs. Big dogs. Pit bulls, black labs, once a coyote, border collies. Moving in with Kris presented a new dog for the list: pug.
I was not sure about having a small dog, and Sparky didn’t have such a great reputation. Kris’ Mom rescued him about two years ago, from an older woman who left him tied to a tree, all the time. He didn’t have love, he didn’t have a home, just a rope and a circumference. That abandonment left him a little neurotic, and untrained.
Since moving here, Sparky has done a complete 180. He’s become my little bud. He sleeps between Kris and I, snuggles on our lap during TV time, loves his walks and hikes in the country, and has only one accident in the span of a month and a half. For a long time, I didn’t think I would every want a little dog, and was nervous about adopting him. Now, Sparkpug is my baby, and completes Kris and I’s little family here. I wouldn’t trade these boys for the world!
We’ve been living in Colorado for over a month now and are still adjusting. This state is beautiful, and though we are stuck in the city for at least eight more months, we’ve been trying to venture to the wilderness as much as possible. And wilderness, there is. This Wednesday is Kris’ 39th birthday, so today we decided to take a drive to Evergreen, a small town about 30-40 minutes southwest of Denver to celebrate.
We got lost a few times, but that’s our favorite part of being in a new, amazing place. First we found Dinosaur Ridge, a nature park where dinosaur bones have been discovered, full of hiking and bike trails. A few miles farther, we stopped in Aspen Park for delicious birthday calzones, bigger than my head. Continuing our adventure, we finally found Evergreen, and fell in love.
The town is small, and slightly touristy. The homes are created with need, not of want. Built into the sides of the rocky mountains, decks spring out decorated in peace signs and twinkle lights, people stroll the streets with dogs and smiles. Our main goal in going there was to scope out some properties we had found for sale online, and we kind-of, sort-of found the perfect one. Though at this point we are unable to purchase, it’s nice to have the goal of space.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with this new job, this new place, no friends, etc. I feel like being on the corporate path may not be the path for me. I don’t want to worry about numbers everyday, all day long. I miss nature, I miss air, I miss dirt roads. I don’t want to go to bars on the weekend, and shopping just because really isn’t my thing. I want to sit outside in the quiet sunshine with a glass of wine and a new book on the weekends. I want to grow my own food. I want to build a fire pit, and raise chickens. I want to sew, and recycle, and compost. Today’s drive reminded me of that Madelyn. It made me realize why I’ve been so sad, so unsatisfied, and reminded me of the girl who wants dirt in her nails and flowers in her hair, every day of the week.
Over the summer, Kris and I ventured from California to Indiana in his loaded-down 2004 Chevy Aveo. We had spent the summer together in California, wasting hours on my apartment patio, writing, debating, drinking, loving. I don’t have many positive things to say about Fresno, but the summer nights are something of a rarity. The air is thick and hot, but a breeze develops around seven o’clock. Children fill the sidewalks with bicycles and skateboards, and adults sit out side, trying not to sweat. As the sun sets close to nine o’clock, diluted with smog, the sky turns orange, purple, pink–like the sun itself is exhaling, spreading her arms wide into the sky, wiggling her fingers, relaxing.
We were lucky to have this summer together, Kris had planned to visit for the month of May, and then head back to Indiana. One month turned into two, two into three, three into four. Come July, it was time for him to return to Purdue and begin teaching. I had never met his brother he talks of so fondly, or his Pa in Oklahoma, or driven through this beautiful country–going together seemed like the only logical decision.
Our first stop was Sacramento, where we visited with my Grandma over sandwiches and potato salad. It was their first meeting, and my heart swelled listening to two of my favorite people banter back and forth–intelligently–discussing American politics for the last one hundred years. She supplied us with blocks of fancy cheese, crackers, strawberries, and all the love and luck in the world. We were unable to stay the night with her that day, and at the time it seemed like the most logical decision since we were on a time schedule, but today, I regret not staying with her. Each time I see my grandmother, I think that I will see her soon, but it’s never true. It would have meant a lot to both her and I if we would have stayed, and I feel selfish for not doing so.
That night, we drove for about six more hours, and ended up crashing at a motel somewhere in Nevada, along the loneliest road in America. We ate gas station muffins for breakfast, and continued our journey. I slept for a few hours in the car, as Kris listened to Phish with the windows down. For lunch we found a China Buffet in a town of maybe 1,000 people. We drove through a lightening storm entering Utah, a state I found incredibly beautiful. We took our time driving through the Red Rocks, discussing religion and making up scenarios for what ancient people must have used such amazing land formations for.
In less than six weeks, I am moving to Colorado. The plan–originally–had been to graduate in December, say, “Goodbye!” to California, and move to Indiana. Instead, I got a promotion with my company, and am being relocated. Kris will be moving with me, and we are so ecstatic to start our lives together–finally–in a new place. We’ve been separated for over a year, him in Indiana teaching, me in California. It’s too hard. We discussed continuing this separation until May, but it’s just not worth it. We will always have opportunities in separate locations because of our career fields, we’ve decided to make our relationship number one. Family is close, money will be good. We’ll be able to afford a wedding, a home, life.
We are moving without any furniture in hopes that we will be able to either salvage or build everything for our new home, together. (I hope to document all the projects here!) We are excited to spend time together each evening, curled up on the couch with our pug Sparky, watching Netflix. We have bought books on gardening, cooking and homesteading. We have vowed to explore, to ride bikes, to kayak. We hope to make new friends.
I have never moved anywhere. I’ve lived in the same area for my entire twenty-four years. I have gone over seas, I have been out of state, but never have I been brave enough–or stable enough–to venture so far away, so permanently. I have always dreamt of living somewhere new, somewhere I can make my own, but the circumstances have never been right. Today, I feel so blessed to have everything right. I have the man, the career, the education, the drive, and most importantly, the love and support from friends and family.
Things will not be easy, and I’m sure there will be days filled with frustration and tears, but to know that I’ve earned this is so uplifting. I’ve earned this. I’ve paid for school myself, I’ve supported myself since the age of eighteen, I’ve worked instead of taking vacations, I’ve studied instead of just passing. Now, all my hard work has paid off, and it–my life–is happening. Buckle your seat belt, this adventure is going to be awesome.
In the next few weeks, I am moving back to my parent’s home, a home I haven’t lived in for over three years. Though I’m sad to leave the comfort and normalcy of my apartment, I am so looking forward to stepping outside each morning to watch the sun rise over the Sierra Nevada, to warm my feet by a wood stoked fire, to clean flower beds and feed dogs. It shall be a temporary move, a window to allow me to prepare for a cross-country move, to save money and to ready myself for what I’ve been working towards the past six years. It’s a bittersweet goodbye to my wonderful parents, people who have raised me to appreciate the value of a dollar, to look at the world from an aware perspective, who have cheered me on when no one else would.
But, going from a two bedroom, two bath apartment to a tiny room on the side of a hill takes some downsizing. In the process of packing (or de-cluttering?) I have found many items I purchased long ago, in hopes of making gifts and mementos. Instead of tossing, or spending, I’m trying to use or reuse items. The first, a ceramic pig, I purchased for my now almost year old niece, a year ago.
Simply painted, I hope she uses this piggy through her adolescents to save for important things, like nail polish, and ribbons, and bangles. I hope at ten, she empties it to buy my sister a well-deserved Mother’s Day gift, at sixteen she prays over it, gathering enough spare change for concert tickets. I hope as it gets moved over and over around her room, she knows that her auntie–though far away–loves her and wants nothing but sunshine and happy days for her.