Why Colorado Is Finally Home

My fascination with the west started when I was kid. Sunday afternoons spent watching cowboy shows, Coors beer commercials and movies like The Wilderness Family fueled my youthful curiosity of Colorado.

As I grew up, got married and started having my own children, my childhood dream of living in Colorado began to unfold like a story from a book. My husband accepted a job to work in Colorado Springs in the summer of 1997 right after the birth of our son. I remember spending the better part of that summer packing boxes and trying to get my infant to sleep. I solidified my resolve for Colorado by playing John Denver music over and over again in the middle of the night to prepare myself for the move.

We packed up and headed out west as so many songs say, and haven’t looked back since. Sure like so many people who move here, I keep close tabs on my home state. You can identify the non-natives by the flags we fly during the fall football season in our subdivisions. You know the crazy Texans, Nebraskans, Georgians, and West Virginian’s who are fiercely loyal to their hometown teams. We are the ones who refuse to work on our accents and often comment on the inability to grow anything in this God-awful soil.

Since moving here fifteen years ago, our family has received more than our share of crit for not rallying with the Broncos. We are Steeler fans. Enough said. We gather with other non-natives for holidays, we learn Colorado history when our kids do in elementary school and we love showing folks back home pictures of the blue sky and purple mountains.

It took me a long time to begin to actually think of myself as a Coloradoan. For years when the national map would come up on the weather report, I looked to the east, and not to the center of the country. I always felt disrespectful when I called Colorado home, and not West Virginia. I spent years trying to figure out the complexities of the diversity of people who come to live in this state. The conservatives, the hippies, the entrepreneurs, the military, the suburbanites, the thrill seekers, the environmentalists.

But I remember when I truly began to see myself as a Coloradan. It was around 2008 when my state of mind started to change. I had had for years worked for companies that had a national focus. I changed jobs and so did my attention. It started to shift to local needs and activity. It was almost like I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t have to look outside of the state to help people or make a difference. There was tons of work to do right in my own back yard. We also had several family friends who decided to move away to either go back home or try something new. I just kept thinking to myself why in the world would anyone want to leave here?

We also bought a Jeep Wrangler, a Rubicon,around this time and began to explore the backcountry of our state. You know the places where no one but those people explore? Yes we became those people. When my husband decided last year to leave the job that brought us out here, and start our own business, we had no doubt we would build it in Colorado. We dug in even deeper roots and named the company after the region we loved, solidifying even more our identification with the land, the people and the lifestyle we adopted.

 

Like so many transplants our children are true natives. They love the wilderness, the parks, the friends they have made here. They aren’t shocked when they see elk the size of a car, or foxes in back yards. They know all about ski areas, hiking and that sunscreen with SPF 30 is the only way to go at high altitude. They have grown up with an independent spirit that fosters curiosity from exploring trails and an amazing educational system that I only wish I had grown up with.

When I look at them, I realize one of the reasons why I truly have fallen in love with this state. While West Virginia holds my past and history, for which I am grateful, Colorado holds my future. It is as open as the mountains and fields that encompass this beautiful land. It represents opportunity and hard work. It is community and family.

This week while it feels like we can only helplessly stand by and watch as our state is plagued by wildfires, I am once again reminded that this has become home. The reason why I am mad as hell that this is going on, is that as I look around I realize that these are my neighbors fighting this fire. The community where I work is now serving each other. Businesses, lifestyles and homes are threatened.  We will overcome, and in the future this will become part of our history—an event that we talk about by saying, “Remember when…”

But while you are in the thick of it this week Colorado, no matter if you are a transplant like myself, or a native, take some time to reflect on how this beautiful state is a part of you. Dream about all of the exciting ways it will shape your future. These thoughts just may keep us all going in the days ahead.

 

Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    As I stare at the ash and smoke a heavy sinking feeling chokes my chest. It’s not just the fact that there is smoke in my house, but that it is triggering memories of the fire I survived as a child. It is sad, I grieve with the rest of Colorado. Despite the tears I have shed, Colorado is my new home and I am proud to say that I live here!!!

    • Jessica it is so hard right now. I keep praying for all those involved. So glad you have made CO your home 🙂 Thanks for dropping by my blog.

  2. Julie–I’m so glad you reposted this because I missed reading it the first time. You got to “Colorado’s My Home” a bit ahead of me. I think it wasn’t until I had been here 20 years that I wrote a column similar to this. Now I’ve been here almost 35 years and can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else this side of heaven. For years I said I was “geographically bipolar” because Tennessee was still my home, too. But once my mom passed away, “home” went with her. Now home is here, which is why we cried the tears we cried this week! Thanks for reminding me of all the reasons I love Colorado, too!

Speak Your Mind

*