Friday, December 28, 2007

Fri, Dec. 28, 2007: 70 West and Central City

I wasn't sure where to head today, but knew that I needed to go somewhere. The energy of the land out here is so crazy, and it's been really affecting me since returning from Connecticut. I feel so light and free, and I wish more than I ever have in my life that I had wings so that I could take off and skim over the trees and mountains, sending the snow scattering and spiraling in my wake. It also feels like it moves powerfully, as if anything I take into myself and decide to do, this energy will help it manifest in my life. I'm not sure that it actually works that way, but it's a wonderful feeling to have in my spirit.

I wanted to head up to Winter Park and revisit the drive I took this summer, but I was nervous about the condition of the roads and stuck to I-70 instead. It seemed like the deeper I headed into the mountains (well, foothills really), the less snow was blanketing the ground. The road seemed pretty clear, and the fantastically strong Colorado sunshine wouldn't let any ice claim a home on the pavement. I turned off onto the exit for Central City, having been curious about the Central City Parkway sign that blares yellow and red in your face as you drive on I-70 west. The road rides along a narrow shelf carved into the sides of the mountains - just my style! Lucky for me, it was fairly well plowed and I had no trouble reaching Central City.

Central City is apparently a gambling town, which I didn't realize until I started seeing billboards for the casinos as I traveled the parkway. It is nestled into a beautiful valley of wooded hills and gently rolling meadows, and the town itself is a small configuration of Old West style buildings running alongside narrow, hilly streets. I picked some random roads and drove around the town, and eventually found one that washed me up into the hills as it retreated to the town behind me. Across from an old mill was a small field with a sturdy segment of brick wall standing freely within it, surrounded by tufted clusters of yellowed grasses protruding from the snowdrifts.

I headed back to town and saw a fascinating sign that sparked my imagination: "Oh My God Rd". Okay... any road called Oh My God Road I *need* to see, so I headed in that direction. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps Oh My God Road isn't the safest place to be after a snow storm, but I figured that if the road wasn't well maintained I could always turn around.

Oh My God Road was exactly what its name promised it would be: a one-lane, windy, snow-covered road that twisted itself through a canyon and provided breathtaking views, all the while keeping me alert with both hands on the wheel in case my car decided to skid. This picture was taken looking either west or southwest, and if you look closely you can see the snow forming wispy banners as it blows off the mountain peaks (at least, I can see it in my full-sized version of the picture!).

I can't even begin to describe to you the vivid blue of the sky against the white snow and the deep green of the pine trees. It reminded me of what I call "sapphire sky" in New England in the fall. This picture actually offers a fair estimation of the color, and shows Oh My God Road (the one closest in the foreground, not the one that looks like it goes sharply up the hill, for if that were the case I could never have navigated it).

As I twisted through the canyon, I saw a fair number of abandoned buildings and free-standing walls formerly belonging to structures. I also came across this strange construction, the likes of which I have occasionally seen in my travels across this state. I can't decide if they were used back in the days when mining was the thing to do out here, or if their purpose is merely to intrigue out-of-staters such as yours truly.

So... now it's time to get to the embarrassing part of my adventure, because although I would love to relate my day without it, it would feel like something important was missing. I pulled over at one point during my drive to take a picture of the mountains, and figured that I would be safe leaving my car on the road since I hadn't passed a single person since leaving Central City (perhaps people from Colorado know better than to navigate through a canyon on a snowy road...). I kept my ears open for cars and took some pictures, and everything was fine until I got back into my car and tried to pull onto the road. Apparently I had gone all the way off the road on one side, and two of my tires were flailing around in a snowbank sitting well below the pavement. It took some work, but I finally rocked my way back up onto the road and rejoiced in being safe and warm and not stuck. Oddly, about 2 minutes later I passed the first and only car I would see during my entire drive on Oh My God Road. That was such a strange coincidence - had I been unable to get my car free on my own, I probably would have received help from them.

While it was obviously not a very smart thing to do (even though it was an accident), the feeling I had when I was able to free my car independently was so amazing. I thought I was totally screwed, but I made myself calm down and think of a way to fix the situation, and it worked! Despite the poor decision I made to pull over, I learned a lesson about driving out here and was able to feel that I can rely on myself when I need help. I am grinning as I sit here writing about it, half because of that good, bright feeling, and half because of embarrassment over my poor driving decision. Seriously though, who even makes roads that drop off like 8 inches on the side?!

The moral of this story is: don't pull over into snowbanks to take pictures.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thurs, Dec 27, 2007: Christmas in New England

((Present Day: I'm posting this a bit early, because my computer with this blog's pictures will not be accompanying me on my New England adventures. I plan to leave very early tomorrow morning, and arrive very late the following evening. 1,000 miles a day makes the world seem a lot smaller. Most of my co-workers were very concerned when they learned that I am driving back to Connecticut by myself, and I had to remind them that this will be my 4th and 5th trips driving cross-country, and that I don't handle long drives the way most people seem to...which would be by avoiding them at all costs.

I haven't gone for a long drive for a while now, and am very deeply looking forward to the experience.

With regards to this blog, my hesitation about people out here has lessened considerably since I found a group of friends with whom I feel entirely satisfied and entirely myself. I also just took a moment to think that I'd probably have quite a time finding friends anywhere, not just in Colorado. I chalk that up to the disconnect between what I look like and who I am inside, as well as the truth of who I am inside versus what I choose to express to others. Throw in factors like others' perceptions of me multiplied by their abilities to see beyond the surface, and it just becomes this big, disconnected mess for one to sift through before finding the grains of truth floating around in the rubble. I guess it just takes time to find people who are either insightful enough to see through me but not past me, or patient enough to pursue the grains.))

12-21 through 12-27

I have 2 weeks off from work, and decided to spend one week back in Connecticut visiting family and friends, and one out here in my new home doing what it is I do here. My head is filled with thoughts and is churning them at a furious rate, so I'm going to do this blog a bit differently. Pictures come first, thoughts second. (I have also been up since 3:45 this morning, so I'm guessing this won't be my best work...).

I left sunny Colorado on a Friday (which I took off from work... then later learned that's totally taboo), and took this picture from the airplane to show my family that Colorado really is completely flat until all of a sudden the mountains stick up.

I was greeted by gloomy New England winter weater:

and (if you compare it to the tree we have at our house here) a REAL Christmas Tree!

I got to see some of my friends from high school, Becky, Chris, and Nora, and of course my family. Hmm, what to talk about first. How about my ex, who contacted me shortly before I left for the holidays, telling me how sorry he is for the way he treated me and telling me that he'd like to become friends again if I'd be willing. After exchanging emails back and forth for a while, I finally told him to go away. There was a time in my life when I had amazing feelings for him, but that time passed when he yanked the rug out from under me and didn't even watch to see if I fell, let alone hold out a hand or catch me. So that's that.

Another thing I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about is a conversation that I had with Becky and Chris about the atmosphere out here in Colorado. This conversation was fantastic for me because I have been thinking some things about life out here, but have not been able to firm up the thoughts enough to put words to them. I think that maybe because they have each other, as well as the friends with whom they traveled when they came out here, perhaps it's been easier for them to figure out what the different feeling is because they could bounce their thoughts off each other. Out here, people are obsessed with all things new, and old things seem to just get plowed under to make way for something shiny and plastic. This seems to be the case with music, art, construction... you can even see it in the way the city is expanding, with the neighborhoods that are so planned, they pave the roads before the houses go up. I don't know if I just haven't found that niche out here that appreciates old things and old ways, or if it doesn't exist at all.

They explained that New England seems to have more room within society for different types of people. People are no less accepting of others out there versus here, but perhaps they are more tolerant. Out here in Colorado, most people that I have met are pretty much the same, and deep, meaningful connections seem to be few and far between.

I miss the country. I miss having a big backyard and trees. It was so amazing to drive around and see all the trees back in Connecticut - and even in Rhode Island, where I used to think the trees looked so puny, stunted by the ocean winds. But when I was there during this visit, I couldn't take my eyes off them. The pines out here in the mountains are nice, but they can't hold a candle to the diversity of trees in New England.

So now I'm freaking out again, about not belonging here, and not wanting to belong here. I don't want to turn into one of these people who is like, "Hey! I'm from Colorado! I like hiking and skiing." ... and that's all they have to say. I may withold my thoughts at times, but they're always there, flying around in my head. Do I belong here? Am I wasting my time living somewhere I'm not meant to be? I have no idea! And it scares me to death. I don't like uncertainty in my life, not like this. But, now that I know some words to put to the feelings I have been having about my experience out here, do I *want* to fit in here? I'm having a hard time with that.

And finally, couples. They are everywhere. Seeing my sister and her husband, my parents, Becky and Chris, couples reuniting at the airport or traveling together, made me ache for what I am missing. I absolutely love having a relationship and a best friend to love and share thoughts and adventures with, and it hurts to see other people having what I want and me being nowhere close to having it. On the plane back home today, it occurred to me that perhaps part of the reason I want a relationship so much right now is that it would help me decide what to do with myself and where to live. It would relieve me of that pressure, because there would be someone else to decide with. That is obviously not the only reason, but I think it's part of the equation. I don't understand what I'm so afraid of. The energy of the land out here feels so good, and it's such a beautiful place, but I'm not a city girl, and I very much miss trees and streams and rivers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sun, Dec. 16, 2007: Monaco Christmas

Well hello to everyone! I haven't written anything for a while, because I guess I haven't been up to much out of the ordinary - although having an "ordinary" for out here is pretty bizarre.

I'm in a strange state of mind right now. Yesterday, for the first time since we stopped talking back in July, my ex randomly decided to contact me. Thoughts are spinning in my head and everything about me feels weighted down by those little lead weights that you attach to your fishing line: there are some hanging from my eyelids, my shoulders, my heart and my stomach, and my feet. So yeah... strange day.

And right in the heart of this day resides the activity of Christmas tree (Yule tree!) decorating, which actually did end up being pretty fun. My roommate Travis and I were the only ones home, so we didn't have to deal with the chaos of 11 people trying to decorate the tree. The tree itself is somewhat hilarious, since it's kind of scrawny. It looks really cute though. :) My roommates went out to the woods last weekend and cut it down. Here's the best we could do with the limited amount of branches we had to work with:

To those of you who will be in CT, I'll see you soon! To those I won't see, I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday. :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mon, Dec. 3, 2007: 55 Degrees of Poverty

((Present Day: Quick note on my previous post: one of my friends commented on my myspace page that I should make sure I'm stuck for 3 days with someone I don't mind arguing with, because it's going to happen. Good point! Update: Looking for someone who is capable of arguing and still being respectful. I have deez skillz, do you?

Also, with regards to the post below... yup, still broke)).

* * * *

I am broke. I am so pov that I can't buy gas for my car, things to eat for lunch, and last week had to dig through my change jar to buy milk and cereal for breakfast. There are many reasons why I am broke, the primary ones being my insatiable desire to do fun things that usually cost money as well as my inspirational lack of motivation to find a second job. While being broke feels like crap, I view this as a temporary condition which makes it somewhat easier to bear. Yes, I'm hungry and feel like a crazed caged animal because I don't have enough gas to go on road trips, but I know that in January when my loans come through I'll be ok again - and perhaps a bit more conservative in my spending (and/or break down and get a second job...).

So, during this time of being broke, I of course did what any rational person would do and joined a gym. I mean, why not? I still need things to do, ways to meet people, and my body has been crying out for me to use and (gently) abuse it. I picked a place that I drive past every day on the way to and from work, and was really excited to learn that a ton of classes are taught there, including yoga and tai chi. What made me even *more* excited was discovering that belly dance is taught there too! It's perfect - every class that I wanted to take is in one place, and it's much less expensive to pay the monthly membership fee than separate class fees. *Plus* the belly dance class performs once a month!! I love dancing in front of people; I enter this state of movement and energy and music, and can get to the point where I forget that anyone's watching me and nothing exists but that wonderful state. I can't wait until I've been in the class for a while and can join them in performances.

There was some snow on the ground out here around Thanksgiving, but today the sun and 55 degree air sucked the last of it up. What version of the universe am I living in that it's 55 degrees in December? It doesn't look like it's supposed to be very cold for a while either, which is so strange. When I drive to work, I find myself looking with longing at the snow-covered mountain peaks in the distance, missing the cold and the smell and sharp feeling that come with winter air... which is really, really weird because I can't stand being cold. I'm not sure what it is, but seeing the snow around here lately (the little bit that we've gotten) makes something inside of me wake up. It's a little bud of myself, like an imp or a child, that feels new and fresh and exciting. I don't know why the snow is the only thing that brings her out, but I do know that it's the most effective implement I've encountered thus far for cutting through the fog of depression that has made its home in my head ever since my move. The snow makes me feel so alive... the saddest thing about the state of mind I've been in is that you don't even realize how bad you feel until it breaks for just a moment, and like a sunbeam slicing through a cloud, your heart and mind suddenly clear and you think, "Oh my god, I don't even know where I've been". And then the sunbeam gets swallowed back up and you go back to living in gray clouds. This is somewhere that I need to go inside of myself in order to end up where I need to be on the other side, but in the mean time it's been a very difficult journey. The good news is that as time passes, the sunbeams grow stronger and visit more frequently. I fully believe that they are always there, even when hidden behind the clouds, and that this storm needs to pass through me in order to help me get to where I need to be. There are no flowers without rain, and rain can't happen without rain clouds.

One of my co-workers asked me today if I miss Connecticut. I'm honestly not sure. I know that I miss my family and friends, and I do miss trees and the density of growth and moisture in the forests, but this sunny mountainous wonderland I've landed myself in is so interesting and stimulating, I'm not sure it's given me a second to miss Connecticut. I think it'll hit me when I head home; perhaps not this trip since the trees will be bare and the weather probably wet and cold, but when I return in the summer I expect my heart will ache.

I think I've convinced one of my roommates to head to Brushwood with me for some of the festivals this summer. Waking up every day to the sight of tree branches twisting into shadow puppets on the roof of my tent, dancing to ancient drum beats on soft sand beside a bonfire every night, people who smile and love you before you even open your mouth: heaven. I will be there. :)