I was transplanted to Colorado when I was three and I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would actually leave this state. There’s something about the mountains and the energy here that holds me tight. Someone recently asked if I ever want to live anywhere else; the answer was a resounding “Nope”. I definitely want to travel and would consider living somewhere else for a year or two, but Colorado is home.
There’s a saying about Colorado that sums up a lot of what I love about this state: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, it’ll change.” I love that you have to be prepared for anything, you have to roll with the punches, and after a blizzard there’s always a few hardy souls on my twitter feed that have taken to the trails or roads to see what the world looks like after a white-out. In the heat of the summer or the frozen cold of the winter, you can drive three hours into the mountains and find a place that’s 30 degrees colder than where you just were, and maybe you’ll get caught in a sudden downpour or snowstorm on a mountain pass. You just never know. Colorado weather is a crapshoot; it’s changing, dynamic, exciting, and completely alive. It takes a certain kind of crazy to love Colorado.
My ex-husband is from Ohio, and it took me years to realize that you can take an Ohio boy and put him in Colorado, but you can’t put the Colorado in an Ohio boy. He lived his life in the crazy of Colorado as though he were in Ohio, constantly surprised by the changes and unable to keep up. He spent his life as a hamster in a wheel, running in place and never getting anywhere. He liked his life to be completely status quo, and I was a drain on his energy because I was anything but status quo. He adapted to the changes in the weather by staying indoors, not joining me in my mountain adventures, watching sports from the safety of his TV in the basement and generally burying his head in the sand.
I kept running my Saturday morning trail runs, tried to keep the family together, organized their lives and got the kids to soccer games, school functions and playdates. After years of trying to incorporate an Ohio boy who hates the changing seasons of Colorado into my life, I woke up one day and realized that I had begun to watch the nuanced variations of the place that I love from the safety of my house. I had ceased to be a part of the changes in Colorado.
I was competent at being a mother and wife, and my insecurities about my geekiness took a backseat to the daily machinations of my world. They were still there in the background though, the unlovable pieces of me that had somehow been overlooked in the molding of Lara into adulthood.
I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to suppress my inner quirky geek. I didn’t want anyone to notice that her eyebrows are three shades darker than her hair, her sense of fashion would make a gay man weep, and her smile is the brightest thing on her face.
I didn’t want people to notice that my moods change frequently, I have no capacity for small talk when I’m in sensory overload, and I may not run fast but I have an enormous capacity for endurance in all aspects of my world.
I’ve been embarrassed about being multi-faceted, multi-talented, and unable to tell anyone that I’m a complete workaholic because I most certainly am not. I’m passionate about the things that I do and apathetic about the things that I don’t do because I simply don’t have time or interest in adding them to my life.
Last summer I dated a guy that gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. He said, “You’re like Colorado. You’re so changeable, there are so many aspects of you. You’re a fast runner that’s a deer on the trails, sure-footed and quiet. You live in your body and experience emotions through a cellular filter, and then when you need to put away your tears you’re a Mama-Bear to your kids, competent and loving and capable. You’re a savvy businesswoman and an intuitive listener, and then you change again to a sexy seductress that made me notice how special a sundress can actually be.”
I was thunder-struck when he told me this, and obviously I’ve been rolling it around in my brain ever since. Something about being compared to the changeability of Colorado, the place that I adore, was different and more intuitive than anything anyone has ever said about me.
He saw the real me, and loved me for it. He loved that I don’t live life on a surface level, but that I dive deep into all areas and weave them together in a way that is purely instinctual, creative and 100% mine. He loved my faded jeans, scuffed Danskos and purple nail polish in the winter, and when the weather turned warm he sucked in his breath when he saw me in a sundress and orange wedge sandals. I appreciated the way he appreciated my quirkiness, and how special I felt BECAUSE of it, not in spite of it.
I had an epiphany moment the other day when I realized the gift I have in that memory. He showed me that my inner geek is actually the one that needs to be loved. Yeah I’m smart, I’m a mom, I’m physically fit. But it’s all the other stuff in the package that makes the boring stuff more interesting. I’m thankful that someone finally loved me for all the aspects of me instead of the fact that I can do the laundry and balance the checkbook while carrying on a conversation with the kids and sending school-related emails while dinner simmers on the stove. I guess it took another person to show me my real worth; I couldn’t see it for myself.
Now, in the cold days of a Colorado January, I realize that I want to be loved and seen for my unique brand of crazy, not the masks that I wear in public. I will always be a competent woman, but I want to be adored for the other stuff, just like Colorado. No one moves to Colorado for the consistent weather patterns or the fact that you can swim in the Reservoir every day of the year. People move here because they love the variety, the seasonality, and how every few months you let go of the old, dust off the next season’s clothes, and get outside to see what the world has to offer.
Colorado is alive, changing and completely fluid. Just like me.