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Welcome To Colorful Colorado
A confused love letter about a beautiful state.
It seemed appropriate to start this off with a photo I shoddily took through my windshield, the first time I saw mountains on my drive from the midwest to Colorado. Just before that photo was taken was when I had truly begun to question whether I had made a mistake: about a thousand miles and leagues of podcast episodes behind me was my home, my friends, family, and the community that I had built around me for years.
I wasn’t really all that afraid to go. In fact, I fought for the opportunity to be here. I spent a few weeks convincing a startup to hire me for a role I had no formal experience in. I would succeed, sell most of my belongings, overextend on my finances, and move into a shoddy apartment off of Colfax.
You know, the street that Playboy called the longest, wickedest road in America.
That apartment was horrible. I moved there sight unseen because I hadn’t had a lot of time or money to fly there first. I’ll save you the whole story but I will tell you this: I couldn’t get my bathtub to drain for a month. I had 4 weeks of mail stolen from my mailbox. Someone threatened me a block away from the apartment.
For a long time, I tried to not let that stuff get to me because Colorado was pretty magical at first. I would ride the train to the city in the morning, drink my coffee, and read from my kindle. I would take a pleasant walk to my office. A dog-friendly, arguably dilapidated, yet somehow cozy place to work. I would hike on the weekends and try my hardest to plunge into social scenarios after. I remember marveling at the mountains and asking my friend Chris whether he ever gets sick of looking at them or not. A stupid question. You don’t ever get sick of looking at the mountains.
My coworker and I were seeing a band called The Wonder Years when they announced in-between sets that international travel was largely closed off. I thought the virus was all a media sensation, but in reality, the world was slowly starting to shut down. My coworker and I debated whether or not we would be in the office the next week. We weren’t.
I started spending an extremely uncomfortable amount of time within the confines of my shitty apartment. I tried to keep my mind busy the best way that I knew how, I started a tiny software business and built a writing community. I pushed myself to exercise outside, I took up running, and somehow found a lot of joy meandering up and down this trail that went alongside a decrepit amusement park.
At first, this state felt like an unwelcome cocktail of isolation and personal strife. I won’t lie to you, that first year was really tough on me at times. Looking back now, I had some of my favorite experiences while I was living here.
I think a lot about that quote from Steve Jobs where he asserts that we can only connect the dots looking backward, not forwards. Initially, I thought that this essay would be a dramatic retelling of how isolated and alone I felt at times, about how badly I missed my friends and family, or even about how I had entirely too much time to sit around and think about the way the world felt like it was imploding. Too many moments where I was struggling on the phone with friends and loved ones.
But in all reality, I did a lot! I climbed a mountain to the peak, I saw an innumerable number of live concerts, I stayed weekends at a cabin in the mountains, made a number of new friends, dated, put hundreds of miles on Lime scooters, went snowboarding, zip-lining, kayaking, jumping into hot springs, and more!
For a long time, Colorado felt unfamiliar. Now, I know the best way to walk to Union Station from my place. I know what bars in town are the most fun at night, where to take my friends when they visit, what to do on a weekend, and even which hikes are the most packed. I have a few coffee shops that I’ve decided are my mainstays, and even a handful of neighborhoods and places that bring back memories of all kinds. I’ve got familiar paths that I’ve walked up and down and a german brewery that I’ll think about more often than I’d like to admit.
On account of all of the introspection I’ve done, the time I’ve spent here has given me a renewed sense of purpose. I feel a heightened sense of resiliency from weathering the storm. I have a lot of pride over what I’ve accomplished here in a few short years and I can finally admit that I’ll miss this state and what it has to offer a ton. In a lot of ways, our relationship feels more or less like a question of timing. I’m not entirely sure I was ready to move. That whole global pandemic ordeal threw a real wrench, too. I can’t help to feel a little heartbroken about this state on my way out, but that’s because of my uncanny ability to make anywhere home.
And so when people ask me why I’m moving back home to Michigan: it’s complicated. I feel obligated to share something that is missing or something that went wrong. However, I’ve come to realize that everything is exactly as it was supposed to be. I was not only able to call somewhere exciting home, but I was also able to explore new frontiers personally and professionally. For now, I’m looking forward to being closer to loved ones and getting more involved with a city I fundamentally admire.
It’s funny. I’ve been thinking about this from the framing of it being my final transmission from Colorado, and while I’ll miss living here, I know we’re far from finished. Before moving here, I had visited when I was young. Sometime after that, I came to visit with one of my close friends and meet his new girlfriend. A few years after that, I officiated that same couple’s wedding in Breckenridge.
Just this last weekend I continued to make new friends here! As the story would have it, this is not my final transmission. Not even goodbye. I’ll visit again.
So long for now. 👋 🏔
A few of my favorite Colorado memories
A have an unlimited number of these. However, these felt particularly impactful. Enjoy!