I am often asked what drew me to leap my life from Boston to Colorado and I think how can we distill any of our life decisions into a neat set of ingredients, in the form of a recipe to share with others? How can we explain in a sentence or two why we left our familiar or got divorced or fell in love or decided to have children or not?
My first visit to Colorado in years felt like a massive therapy session, one that left me drenched with emotion and a fairytale kind of hope that perhaps, just perhaps I had discovered my space, my home, in this world. The wildflowers at Chautauqua and the tempting green of the grass on the hills below the Flatiron’s placed a magical spell on me and the voice inside that had been encouraging me to move became harder to still.
I was suffocating in suburbia. Wayland is quintessential New England with lushly tree-lined roads and branches that create balconies of limbs and a springtime bloom that smells like candy. The only problem is that underneath that natural beauty is a bit of ugliness. An inordinate amount of attention paid to appearances from beneath lip-stick lined lips and behind three-car garages and lawns only tended by landscapers, and the absence of invitations once you no longer fit the correct pattern: intact marriage, children on their way to ivy league schools, and inhabiting a home larger than any home needs to be. The dark side of suburbia and the discomfort I felt there pushed me to discovery–first I loudly rebelled through relationships with friends that may or may not have been my age, that were not driven by money and who sighed at the sight of a path in the woods. I got tattoos, held parties until 2 a.m. around my fire pit and then got up and went to work at 7 and played frisbee at midnight.
My rebellion turned into a backroad to joy. My rebellion led me to discover that voice from before marriage, before children, and before life in suburbia. I found the girl I once was and we became friends again.
I found my way to Boulder on the urging of friends at REI, comrades in wanderlust, human beings that knew nothing of me before I joined them on the sales floor. “You belong in Boulder,” they said and in all honesty, and those of me that know me will understand, that very comment convinced me that I likely did NOT belong in Boulder.
I was wrong.
There is a glorious beauty in the uncomfortable aftermath of trauma and it is manifested in one’s ability to write our own rules. For me, that meant fleeing the space where I felt trapped inside a cage, jailed in the past, in order to move forward. What had been no longer served me, but I was uncertain just what would serve me now.
I found that making peace with the unhappiness from my life explosion would be best for me before I moved on. My moments of pain included an amputation of relationships that reminded me of the darkest space I have personally ever inhabited and I tentatively reached across that terrifying abyss and touched the hands of the friends again that had not turned away from me when I fell and who had loved me through my most unlovable moments.
With every visit to Colorado, I found more pieces of me. I wrote. I saw my past and connected with my father in a way I had not been able to do when younger. The mountains offered a firm shoulder to cry on and a sense of safety and strength that I drew from, like a butterfly draws nectar from a blooming flower. I didn’t ask why this was so, it just was.
I felt free. I don’t think I had ever felt free before. No one knew me and I found great comfort in that anonymity. I could be me, whoever that woman was. I could find me. I took a yoga class, had dinner alone at a bar on Pearl Street, talked to strangers inside stores, hiked in the woods of Chautauqua and sat on enormous boulders and dreamed. I dreamed of a life that could be mine.
And one day I realized that this life calling to find me didn’t have to be a dream.
There was a yearning, a glowing like gold blood in my veins, a pull to places I had not yet been and all that was to be discovered was where I was meant to be. I had nothing to lose any longer. Nothing at all. So why not leap into possibility?
So when I drove over the hill on my way to Boulder and spied the Flatirons for the first time, I was ready to be mesmerized. And I think that is the key to any life leap.
We are restless. We are ready. We leap.