Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fri, May 30, 2008: Journey to Connecticut

Woo hoo, I'm at my parents' house which means... free wireless internet!! I'm hoping to use this to find myself a job for the summer, as well as for less-responsible things like catching up on Strongbad emails and myspace messages.

I finished moving to my new apartment on the 27th, and picked up first thing the next morning to head east. It was impossible packing for my voyage East when I had no idea where half of my things were, but I somehow managed... and will be returning to a complete disaster of an apartment.

Eastern Colorado was no less dull than I expected it to be, though for a part of my drive the land was covered in a fog so thick I couldn't even see the car in front of me. That was a strange experience, since I haven't experienced foggy driving conditions since moving to Colorado. I listened to Outlander, a book on cd that my friend copied for me last summer before my big move. The story is about a woman who ends up being transported back to the mid-1700's in Scotland, and the adventures that she has there. I found it highly entertaining and one long day passed with my thoughts completely absorbed in the events of the story.

I passed out in my car around 11pm in a hotel parking lot, feeling like a bandit but too tired to care. I haven't been sleeping well with the move, the chaos with the guy I've been dating, and the emotional upset of our principal passing away 5 days before the conclusion of the school year. I think it finally caught up with me, and it was a great night for it to do so. I was roused the next morning by the sunrise and set off, determined to make it home by midnight.

I had an hour-long detour around Dayton, OH and was amazed to find myself driving through countryside that was thick with trees. I rolled down my windows just to lose myself in their scent as I crawled at about 3mph across the pavement. The drive through Pennsylvania was just as wonderful, as I-80 passes across wild forest land sprawled along the gentle humps of hills... and not much else. It was so desolate that I began wondering what would happen to me if I got a flat tire out there, then told my car that I didn't feel like finding out so he'd better not try anything.

I never realized just how winding the highway is in Connecticut, and just how absurdly people drive. In Colorado, if someone comes up behind you and is driving faster than you, they give you a minute to put on your blinker and move over so they can pass you. In Connecticut, people whip past you without a second thought. I was left thinking ummm... I would have moved over. Idiot. I suddenly remembered why I was amazed by drivers in Colorado when I first moved out there.

I did make it home around midnight and was ready to collapse on my bed and pass out for hours. I was distracted, however, by the recent changes that my parents have made to the upstairs of the house. They finally pulled up my horrible pink carpet which I chose at the tender age of 3 because of my intense love affair with the color pink. Instead I walked in to find a shiny new oak floor which somehow makes my room look absolutely enormous. The closet doors are still off my closets, and I can look straight inside and see all of the things that I left behind. It's a strange feeling, having half my things out here and half my things in Colorado. I feel almost afraid to bring them with me, as if I might be forced to leave Colorado at any second and would have to abandon my possessions. I don't know why I have this feeling of sudden leaving associated with my living out there... logically, it seems to me that if I wanted to leave I would at least have time to plan for it.

Traveling across the country in a car gives me such an amazing perspective on how very small my life is compared to the scale of our country, let alone our world. It's helpful to me, especially now when I am trying to figure out my relationship, because it almost forces you to boil things down to what is most important, what is most essential. I have a new perspective on the relationship that I was aware of but afraid of back in Colorado. Now, it seems too important a thing to be afraid of.

The world is so, so big. Instead of making me feel lost, this feels both exciting and reassuring. How could anything really be wrong in a place like this? Little everyday stuff really doesn't matter, and there are so many people out there that there must be at least one who has a similar philosophy as me - in fact, I know several from my life experiences already, which reassures me that there are more.

I. Love. Trees. I love them so much. Yes, I hug them (when nobody is looking...). I talk to them too, and although they don't talk back with vocal cords of xylem and phloem, they do give you a feeling back if you let them. Trees in Colorado are all the same once you get up into the mountains, which are the only places that have trees - sharp dark green pines interspersed with random lines of aspens. Out here, it is completely amazing to see the range of greens displayed by the trees, from brownish to yellowish to blueish and everything in between. Aside from my family and friends, trees are the number one thing that I miss about living out here.

I don't necessarily feel that I am going to stay in Colorado forever. I do, however, understand now that one of my purposes there is to find myself, my REAL self, the rock of me within myself. It has been hard to listen to myself and find my way when my life has been so completely chaotic for the past 10 months, what with my four moves and all. Everything I know has been so completely disrupted so many times that I feel like I can't take it anymore - which is why I was so relieved to sign my 14-month lease in Golden. 14 months without moving seems like some unheard-of luxury to me at this point in my life!! I am deeply looking forward to settling in to my new place, figuring out if the rec center has yoga classes (or if there even is a rec center...), joining a knitting group if I can find one to learn from people with skill, and identifying the hikes nearby that I can do on my own so that I don't have to worry about having someone around to go with me. Also, it would be nice to settle down somewhere long enough to actually make some friends, which is hard enough for me.

With so much life going on, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed and sometimes scared. It's also hard not to feel excited like a child at Christmas, opening the biggest gift under the tree. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sun, May 18, 2008: Crazy Weekend!

((I still whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment I expressed here regarding relationships and feeling unappreciated.))

* * * *

This time of my life seems to be mirroring my life this past summer in many ways. My living situation is about to be disrupted again, for the 4th time in 10 months, as I will be moving next weekend. Luckily I think this move will be a very good one for me. :)

Things between the guy I'm seeing and I have become difficult and we are taking a break to try to resolve things. I have spent a great deal of time these past few weekends traveling around on road trips, trying to find a bit of peace in the emerald green landscape that is springtime in Colorado. I have spent so much time thinking about things between us that I feel sort of overloaded on the subject, but I do have one thing to say. I am very tired of being in situations where I feel unappreciated. It is still a powerful and dear dream of mine to find someone who gets excited by the prospect of being near me and spending time with me. I definitely think that I deserve that, as I think everyone does. I think that all people need to be that special to just one person in the world, and that somehow makes everything essentially *right*, way down to the roots.

My roommate's internet has been really screwey lately. I've taken a bunch of pictures but haven't been able to do much with them. Perhaps once I move and settle in a bit I can take care of that. It feels strange to have my life packed up around me in boxes once again. Come to think of it, my life sort of feels like one of those boxes right now - stale, limp cardboard boxes that have been dragged across the country, jolted around during who knows how many car rides, just to be taped together again and stuffed with more nonsense.

Yeah... I'm hoping something comes along to lend me a new perspective. This week has been really rough. We found out at work on Thursday morning that our principal passed away the night before of a heart attack. The past few days have been spent comforting crying children and my own crying self, tears of sadness and gratitude for all that he did.

His sudden death, my upcoming move, and the break in my relationship are very heavy to deal with all at once. I look forward to finding my happiness once again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sat, May 10, 2008: Los Animas

((Present Day: Just a side note - last night, one of my friends and I were talking about a possible upcoming trip to Moab, and she made a comment about the fact that I go places alone because I like being away from people. I wonder if this is the impression that I have given, but it's not the case at all. Yes, often solitude is very nice and I have been able to work out many problems and emotions that I wouldn't have been able to had I been around people all the time. Yes, I thoroughly enjoy my own company and am great at amusing myself. But my solitude isn't voluntary - it's entirely due to the fact that I have nobody in my life right now whom I could call up and say "Hey, I'm water seeking today. Feel like driving a 15-hour round-trip to Nebraska so I can check out some random lakes I saw on the map?" I go because I love the adventure: I love traveling and exploring and seeing new places. I go alone because I don't know anybody else who shares my intense passion for these things. Also I don't know many people who are perfectly content to drive for long distances like I am. People still think I'm weird for enjoying my drives back and forth across the country. I think they're wonderful - both the drives and the people. :) )).

* * * *

Since moving to Colorado, I've wanted to explore the southeast corner, which is dotted on the map with intriguing little bodies of water. I headed east on I-70, randomly turned off the exit to Agate, and captured a decent view of what I titled "random farm junk". I didn't share views like this in my prairie blog, but they were there and plentiful. A fairly short distance from Denver, farm equipment can be seen strewn across the prairie fields.

A bit later I took the exit to Limon, the point at which I would leave the main road and head out into the lonely prairie, only to find the strangest creek I have ever seen:

It is called Big Sandy Creek, and it was made of... sand. No water. Just sand.

Limon was a strange little town in the middle of nowhere. I'm not sure where the townsfolk work, shop, or entertain themselves on the weekends. They did have a railroad museum beside which stood this neat windmill.

When I first moved out here, I remember taking this very desolate picture of the prairie from I-70. I remember being very depressed at that time, not only because of the emotional turmoil of my dying relationship but because it was rainy and gray and the land looked so ugly. I couldn't believe that I drove all that way only to find that Colorado is the worst looking state I'd crossed yet. (This of course faded as the state redeemed itself by consistently amazing me on my adventures). I wondered if perhaps the ugliness was due to the time of year... maybe the sun had dried up all the grasses. Today I learned that this is not the case, and the prairie that presented itself to me was just as monochromatic as the day I arrived.

As I neared the reservoirs and Los Animas, the land began showing a more beautiful side of its face. While driving toward one of the reservoirs, the land looked like this picture: rippling fields of tan juxtaposed with velvety emerald expanses.

The reservoir I was headed towards was right at the end of the road above, though you would never know there was water so close. The water had a strange teal colored hue, and it was wonderful to see the bright green baby leaves on the trees at the water's edge.

When I arrived at Route 50, I was surprised to see how populated and developed the land was along the road. There were many towns to cross between Lamar and Pueblo, with endless stretches of ranch after ranch in between. The first thing I was greeted with in Lamar was the stench of a cattle holding ground... I forget what it's really called. I think something innocuous sounding, like a "feeding pen". I'm pretty sure this is where they hold the cattle until they're ready to slaughter them. They are so packed on top of each other that there is barely room for them to lay down, much less walk around. The ground is a mixture of mud and feces, with no delicious soft grass to munch on and roll around in. They huddled together in groups of 2 and 3, resting their heads against each other as if knowing that their last comfort would be one another's company.

No, I don't eat beef. Yes, I do eat other meats and I'm sure that the animals are treated just as cruelly. It really broke my heart to see them because their need to be close to each other and comfort each other was so human, so very much something I can relate to.

Traveling along 50, the land was lush and green. There seemed to be an abundance of water in the area, both from the reservoirs and the rivers and streams spawning from them. Since arriving in the prairie, I have learned that you rarely see trees growing very far from a water source. Usually they all cluster right along the bank of a stream or river in order to survive. But all along the road there were trees growing wherever they wanted!

The big reservoir near Los Animas was absolutely beautiful.

I drove along a nice paved road that ran beside the water, then was dumped onto a one-lane dirt road that was carved so far into the ground that I felt like I was in a sagebrush-lined cave. The road headed upwards and the land became dry again, like the stares of the cattle whose pastures I traversed. It was extremely windy and my car was assaulted by waves of tumbleweed and specks of dust. The air looked hazy due to the amount of dirt flying around in it. It took me a while to reach the main road again, which I was luckily able to do by going "umm, I think I turn this way now?". I was very grateful for 2 things: 1, that I have a decent sense of direction and 2, that the roads out here basically unfailingly run north-south or east-west.

On the way home I drove through both very poor and fairly prosperous looking towns with a smile in my face as I soaked up all the greenery around me. I thought that I was perfectly content until I headed into Douglas County, a very wealthy area that runs along the mountains south of Denver.

The land reminded me of the rolling green hills in Hobbiton (from Lord of the Rings). I love this area, and something about it connects with my heart. I think it is one of my favorite places in Colorado. The land is scattered with sprawling homes and ranches, and each hill and curve presents a new beautiful view to take in.

On a completely different note, I will be moving 2 weeks from now (YAY!). I'm not sure if I will have internet at my new place... basically I need to see if I can afford it first. So if I disappear for a bit it's only because I will probably be pretty busy and also pretty cut off from the virtual world. I hope everyone will be happy and healthy in the weeks to come!