Last Saturday, one of my writer-publisher friends hosted an open mic where the challenge was to read a letter. Yes: that simple. It didn’t have to be long or elaborate, or even reveal to the audience for whom the letter was intended. With the encouragement of some other friends, enjoy reading mine.
A Letter to a Region
The Myth of the American West:
- New frontiers, new opportunities.
- People not as stuck in their ways, willing to change, be accepting of others.
- Wonderful weather, depending on location.
- Limitless possibilities.
I fell for it all, and then some. Fell hard like some starry-eyed teenager.
It took a few years, but I finally found “the one” city I wish to never leave–at least, not for a while. I want this to be a growing, healthy, thriving relationship.
The seeds were sown ten years back, but I didn’t know that at the time. Back then, I was too focussed on goals, friends, doing what I had to do. But some things burrowed deep in my consciousness: the lack of humidity, the crisp air, the abundant sunshine, the respectability of taking buses and trains. Some kisses linger long after the lips pull apart.
After college (in the mountains, where else?), I thought my dream was by the other ocean. I associated the pinnacle of the West mythos with California: that magical place of great weather, great food, great technological innovation … Ahhhhhh.
But the chemistry was bad, the time not right, and the relationship ended almost as soon as it began.
But you …
You were love at first snowstorm. ☃️
Yes, that is how we were reacquainted. A snowstorm. In May. But I didn’t care. This was my new life, and I was ready.
Ready to discover something that would rival even my wildest California fantasies.
It started innocently enough: getting used to the air. Thin, sometimes stifling, sometimes briskly refreshing. Biologically, it took adaptation. But the human body is good at that.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I started to assimilate. Performing poetry was a snowball effect. I found friends, community, a purpose on first Monday, then Tuesday, now Friday evenings. I was challenged to write a poem every week, and I usually did: One about “the fools who dream” in the cities who dream, one about not wanting to leave if I was ever forced to, one about hearing Robert Frost over a telephone line. And of course, the one about the alley poets of Boulder, who yell and survive everything thrown at them, and then welcome a new, vulnerable one to join their ranks.
Then I touched a rock wall … and it was all over. Venturing into the mountains with old college friends, finding more people to share interests and travels with as we journeyed to Ohio, then Austria, maybe Japan next year, all in pursuit of beating ourselves and getting to the top. Rock climbing is a physical as well as mental sport, requiring strength, power, endurance, agility, and the ability to problem solve. Up there on the indoor or outdoor rocks, the world disappears, and it’s only me and the wall that remain. So glorious!
The food. Oh, wow! Who knew you were such a foodie place! From fresh, cilantro-flavored guacamole, to local burger chains and breakfast spots, to palates covering most cultures of the world … finding yummy food is usually never a problem. You feed the mind and the body well.
And last, you are the sum of your parts: the people who make you. They are the ones who look past the cane to the brain beyond. Their embrace is comforting, whether it’s doing yoga or giving directions or feeling validated and loved. These are the people who sympathize with me, the ones who love me just as I am, the ones who normalize the accepted abnormal, the ones who will stay with me all night in an emergency room to ensure I am truly okay. “You just took your nightime meds; before you know it, we’ll be back,” they say. I fall asleep, and in the morning, they do not disappoint.
People from Back East don’t seem to understand. Your weather is gentle, your snows usually melt by noon the next day, there are some hippies among us, but who cares? That is what makes you great! Sure, Boston and New York may say they have better public transit, but you have never disappointed me in anywhere I’ve wanted to go. You afford that Westward freedom, physically and virtually, that is hard to find anywhere else.
So yes, this is a love letter, in case you haven’t guessed. To a city, but to a region as well. I am glad to call the mountains home. Thank you, Colorado, for everything!
With much adoration,
A Virginia Transplant who Will Only Leave for the Bay Area
Just saying. 😉