Today is my thirty-awesome birthday, and just a few days ago was my one-year anniversary here in Colorado.
Can you believe it has already been a year?!
Doesn’t it feel just like yesterday that we were just dancing barefoot in the sand along the ocean?
Maybe for you, but definitely not for me! I look back over this year and I see so much growth and change, and situations that I never could have predicted as I aligned to my new surroundings.
I am, however, grateful for all that has happened, and since it would be on the side of overwhelm to recap my very unorthodox year, I would be remiss if I did not share some key takeaways that really stand out.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #1 – Cardinal Directions and Cross Streets
When I got here, people would tell me to “head west on such-and-such a street, and I would then retort with: “Is that right or left?” They would stop and think, and we’d miscommunicate for a few seconds before I understood which way was “west” (okay, the mountains are fairly large and visible on most days, so finding west was not usually too difficult), but intuitively knowing which way I was traveling in any of the cardinal directions took time and serious thought. In Massachusetts, you take lefts, rights, or go straight until the road curves and twists and leads you somewhere unknown.
Paved cowpaths! Am I right?
Besides not knowing where I was going, the other “landmark” directions were given in cross streets.
New Englanders don’t have cross streets. We have, well, paved cowpaths. I wish that were a joke. It’s not.
If someone didn’t say, “It’s three stoplights past the Dunkin’ Donuts”, then I had no idea where I was. I often prayed to the lady inside my GPS, and hoped I’d find the cross street of Broadway and Mississippi (actually, there isn’t much at that cross street but new developments, but I just like spelling “Mississippi”). The grid system, although brilliantly conducted, confused this New Englander for a while.
Luckily, I now know that streets always cross and if I’m headed west, I’ll likely hit a large rock sticking out of the ground.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #2 – The Timezone Challenge
I’m constantly amazed when I get texts at 5:00 am mountain time from my beloved East Coast friends and family.
Yes, it is 7:00 am your time! Yes, I am usually awake by 7:00, HOWEVER, 5:00 is slightly unmanageable on my end. At least during summer hours!
It also amazes me that so many of my east coast and west coast friends have zero idea of what the time difference is from them to me.
East coast loves: I am TWO hours behind you!
West coast loves: I am ONE hour ahead!
Does that help? Good.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #3 – Microbrew vs. Microbrew
On every corner (and cross street) in Denver you can find a new microbrew pub.
On every corner (and cowpath) in Boston you can find a Dunkin’ Donuts.
I don’t know which is better. Or worse.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #4 – Where Are You From?
The most common question asked here amongst people is: “Where are you from?”
I was used to the big questions in Boston being: “Where did you go to school?” and of course, “What do you do?”
Because of the insatiable influx of people coming from all over the country to Denver, it’s not surprising that is what most people ask when you meet them. Unlike Bostonians, who like to tout the initials after their last name (M.D., Ph.D., J.D., Esq.) and the high-ranking universities we all went to for our advanced and super-advanced degrees, newbies to Colorado all have a story to share, they all have a reason for coming, and they are all looking to make friends, and fast.
It’s no surprise that just three weeks after I got here, I made my first friend who I did not know before arriving.
Michael, who I am sure will love this shoutout, befriended me while we were on a Meetup group hike, and we hung out after having lunch in the town of Golden. He never once asked me where I went to school, or what I did for a living, but rather we engaged in friendly banter over the Steelers and Patriots, and shared funny stories.
Today, we still banter over the Steelers and Patriots and share funny stories.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #5 – Family is Created, Not Born
Family is created by love, not by blood.
I think this was one of the lessons that I kept having to learn all year, but I’m so grateful and thankful that I was presented with so many opportunities to create this life-understanding.
Before I moved, I had SoulSisters and a couple SoulMisters. But because life didn’t fall into place as easily as I had envisioned, I found myself relying on and opening up to the idea that support is not necessarily from blood family, as it is not a given they will be there for you.
Instead, it is important to define your own ideas of family, and it may be that your sister, brother, mom and dad all come in forms of those who don’t share the same blood with you, but rather they share something more important: love.
Just a year after being here, I have found people who I now consider “family”, and I thank the heavens for them everyday for all of the lessons they’ve taught me and all of the unconditional love they’ve shared.
Thirty-Awesome Takeaway #6 - It’s Okay to Call Two Places “Home”
You know “Home is where the heart is”, and my heart is officially in two places: Massachusetts and Colorado.
And that’s okay.
In fact, it’s downright awesome. I get to call two places I love for so many different reasons, “home”, and I’m happy to do so. I don’t have to choose. I don’t want to choose.
I just get to be home no matter in which state I am.
And that is a blessing all in itself.