Place: A Geographical Vessel (an introduction)

sanitas

Oh, hello friend. I guess this is how we meet. What better way than this condensed version of my 35 years on earth that I wrote before I started this blog. it sums things up pretty well.

I am moving across the country, from the wild peaks of Colorado to the comfort of rolling hills in North Carolina. The last time I made such a move was 9 years ago, but under such different circumstances. Cliché to say, but it really was a lifetime ago.

Who's to say how I would have turned out if I had never left Georgia in the first place? I'm sure I would have eventually, but not necessarily to Colorado. I thought when I was young that I would spend a year in New Orleans when I grew up, just me and a guitar and a hat on the street making a few bucks. Just something to experience. But the move I made to Colorado was a different breed of adventure, a critical move of destiny I could have never engineered on my own. When people ask me why I moved to Colorado, I know the technical answer to that, but I don't really know why. I have no idea what propelled me with such force and knowing to a state I had never been to where I didn’t know a soul.

I left Georgia in my shitty Ford Contour, with all my belongings crammed inside, a very young and insecure 25 year old. I didn't know anything. I had grown up in the small mind of the Christian church and rural America, neither of which are a problem in themselves except when they provide your entire worldview. I moved, incidentally or not, to one of the most liberal pockets in the country, Boulder, Colorado. It was such a drastic change of culture, and not only that, but a drastic change of landscape. The Appalachian region I had left was beautiful, but the high rocky peaks and the brilliant red rocks of Colorado were something else altogether.

What started out as a temporary move quickly turned into something that felt permanent. I had never before lived somewhere I loved so much. Boulder was my geographical love affair. I moved into a commune of sorts, had a roommate who went to the local herb school, another who was an amateur Tarot reader, started practicing massage, and bought a pair of moccasins. I sold my car and used my bike to get around. I listened to late night political discourses, sat through marathon-long house meetings where everyone spoke using the principles of non-violent communication (so painful). I realized that work was not the point of life. I spent lazy mornings at the farmer's market eating pupusas and listening to drum circles. In a lot of ways it was utopian, and in a lot of ways it was not, but all the ways in which it was not taught me equally as much.

My next big life choice in the big CO came when I flippantly adopted a 2 ½ year old St. Bernard named Sam. Not a lot of thought, I just knew she was the one. And she was definitely the one. She ran my life from day one; everything I did revolved around her. My day, my work schedule, where we lived, where we went, what we did. She was all-encompassing, and I loved her. She singlehandedly taught me more about responsibility and the caring for another being than anything else I have yet to experience. As I write this, I am 6 ½ months pregnant, so I know that is soon to change, but she will always be my first big (literally) teacher.

Years passed and I lived a life of big experiences, not all positive, but every one packed a supercharged punch of learning. I already felt like I was on some kind of accelerated course of life experiences, and then my little brother died from nothing at all. It's strange when your worse nightmare comes true and there is simply no reason, no cause, no enemy. Just a period where there should have been an exclamation point, and then a long blank page.

I became a different person, as everyone who experiences a death knows to be truth. My internal life halted as everything else in the outer world went on as usual. It was autumn turning into winter in the mountains above Boulder where I was living, and I spiraled inside myself in the dwindling light. There's something about grief and the ice cold mornings before dawn, something about them that understand each other. I began waking in the early hours before even a hint of light could be seen above the tree line, sitting out on the deck wrapped in thickly quilted comforters, my breath ice particles the moment it hit the air. I thought nothing. I felt everything.

Grief is a long, winding road, the first part cutting through the blackest of valleys. How long it lasts is different for everyone. It took me years to crawl out. But years surrounded in the vast Colorado landscape, cradled in the evergreens of the mountains up high, in the red rock of the high desert below, in the shadow of the white rocky peaks always in the distance. The land carried me through, bearing my sorrow, holding my grief. A giant, geographical container.

I would live in Colorado for many more years, many more days, and a lifetime would pass again in that time. Too much to detail. I would be a staunch advocate of the childless life, certain that I was worth more than my womb, until in a blink I wasn't. In a whirlwind, like everything else, I was transformed. A certain man was the catalyst, and I was the rolling stone: all momentum and no control. It was, and is, wonderful. Now here I am, at the end of my long adventure, very large and pregnant. So much lost yet so much gained. Cliché again, but true.

I’ve changed so much in these nine years, but the land has remained constant. It takes tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of years for it to shift into something else. Oceans to desert, mountains that shrink and rise, gorges that form. But we humans never see it happen. To us it stays the same. The land acts as a time capsule, retaining all the memories that happened inside its invisible boundaries. When we leave, if we ever do at all, we leave behind parts of ourselves: buried bodies, ashes scattered, tears cried into the dirt, initials carved into trees. That’s why moving can be so hard, and a place seem so sentimental. Because they are.