Between the ages of 18 and 33, this was my life: start college, drop out of college, get my first apartment, start a new college, study abroad in Australia, study abroad in India, study abroad in Germany, graduate, work in Mexico, work in South Korea, work in Russia, work in Honduras, work in Russia (again!), work in Spain, work in Russia (again!), move back to America, get married, move to Denver, go to grad school, finish grad school, get a real job, get divorced, get serious with a new guy, become a freelancer, move in with the new guy, find a new job.
Now, what’s word best describes those 15 years? CHANGE. And plenty of it!
But then suddenly, there wasn’t. I had it all. I had the guy, I had the job, I had swank accommodations downtown, and I had the world’s best dog. I was firmly on the young urban professional treadmill. Tragic, I know.
But meanwhile, all around me, people kept moving. When I was 35 years old, here’s what my friends and close acquaintances were doing: two were in promising new relationships, two were getting married, two got big promotions at work, two had just moved to Denver, one was moving to a new city, three were buying houses, and one was pregnant. So much excitement, but none of it mine. Well, not directly anyways. I didn’t want to get married, I didn’t want a new job, and I certainly didn’t want to be pregnant. But I wanted something.
Change is my drug. My whole life, people have told me that’s not OK. They’ve told me that I can’t just keep walking away from stuff. That I need to stick with things. Well, I’m 36 and so far I haven’t suffered for my flightiness. No great harm befell me from quitting the flute in second grade, leaving my job making popcorn at the dollar-Tuesdays movie theater after just three months, or changing my college major three different times and ultimately throwing together a do-it-yourself major at the last minute so I could still graduate in four years. There were no ill consequences from skipping out of Honduras halfway through the academic year so I could move back to Russia for the sake of love. The world did not come to an end when I visited America three-quarters of the way through the academic year and simply decided not to get back on the plane to Russia. I think it’s just fine that my capricious nature is the only thing that I’ve ever been able to stick with.
Besides, the stick-to-it people all have their drug too: celebrity rag mags, religion, professional sports, children, television, sex chat rooms. Everyone has something they need to fill their days, to be satisfied, to feel like themselves. I need change. Change is natural. Trees shed their leaves. Snakes and birds molt. Chameleons change color to match their environment. Rivers change their course and change the whole landscape.
In a relationship, however, change is tricky. When you find a relationship you really want to be in, some changes have to be put on hold. I’m in two such relationships right now: one with my life partner and one with my dog. If not for them, I’d almost certainly be back overseas right now, living in a yurt in Kazakhstan, taking trips down the Amazon, eating street food in Bangkok. But it isn’t feasible for my beloved human partner to live anywhere else but America, at least for the time being. And I would never, ever remit my beloved canine partner to the baggage handlers of an airline, nor would I force him to live in a culture that doesn’t revere dogs as the way-better-than-a-human-baby creatures that they are. So do I feel like I’m being held back? Not at all. Life offers infinite permutations and we have found a way to make our own radical change, a mere 35 miles from our current metropolitan paradise.
Enter The Sanctuary, an adobe palace off a private dirt road on the top of a mountain overlooking the entire Boulder valley. About as different from an ultra-modern loft in the heart of medium-sized city as possible. But we aren’t just exchanging concrete columns and steel for rounded corners and arched doorways. There’s so much more.
• I won’t have to worry about cars whipping out of alleys or parking garages and running over my dog, but I will have to worry about a mountain lion stalking him and eventually making a meal out of him.
• I won’t be barred from exiting or leaving my garage by inconsiderate assholes who think the “No parking” sign doesn’t apply to them, but I will have to learn to plow the quarter mile long driveway with the 1972 International Scout that comes with the property so the snow doesn’t block me in.
• I won’t have to worry about the downtown parking Nazis slapping tickets on my friends’ cars the second the meter clicks over, but I will have to warn my friends that they won’t be able to visit if it’s raining or snowing unless they have four-wheel drive and snow tires or chains when the weather is really bad.
• I won’t be going to the gym to work out, but I will be splitting wood for our fireplaces. (The house also has radiant heating. C’mon, you can’t possibly think I’m that hard core.)
• I won’t have to keep a lock on the garbage dumpster to prevent the bums from rifling through it, but I will have to keep a lock on the garbage to prevent the bears from rifling through it. I’ll also be recycling a lot more (dropping off recyclables is free) and using a trash compactor (there’s a per-bag fee for garbage drop off).
• I won’t be walking a block or two to happy hour several times a week because I’m too lazy to go grocery shopping, but I will be stock piling non-perishables, water, and toilet paper from Costco for that inevitable once-a-year storm that isolates from the rest of the world for several weeks. (Bonus – I’ll finally lose the weight I’ve packed on over the last two years!) (Added Bonus – I won’t be getting sloshed at 5pm every day so maybe I’ll actually start drawing again and writing more and finally learning how to garden in the lovely courtyard.)
• I won’t have a neighborhood bulletin board filled with messages about robberies, break-ins, and shootings, but I will have a neighborhood bulletin board filled with messages about illegal picking of wildflowers, stray horses in people’s backyards, and one clever bear that has learned that houses = refrigerators = food and is aggressively breaking through sliding glass doors in pursuit of Red Bull and TV dinners.
Several years ago on the deck of our new house.
Photos courtesy of the previous owners.
That’s probably enough change to keep me satisfied for a few years. So here we go. Today is the day. Wish me luck and stay tuned for tales of adventure in the Boulder county wilderness!