Approximately 10 years ago one of my oldest and closest friends was getting married. She asked all of her guests to participate in the wedding ceremony by sharing their answers to the statement “Love is…”. Easy! Love is … friends so close you call them family.
Never has that statement felt more true than it does right now, as I prepare to leave my Boulder “fr-amily” for a year. With a year of physical distance headed our way, I feel compelled to reflect on the awesomeness that is my Boulder community and to share it with all my people. The good stuff needs to be shared more often and not in a gloating way, in a very real and sincere way.
A few weeks ago my parents came for their annual 72 hour visit. During that time they attended a PT appointment with me and met my therapist whom is now a friend, we bumped in to my old orthopedic doctor at the grocery store, we saw a former patient of mine at the hardware store, we ate at our friends restaurant (yea Little Curry Shop) during which time we sat next to and exchanged hugs w our resident Olympian & friend (Evelyn Stevens) and just beyond that table was our friend Steve from Pablo’s Coffee (which we will be brewing in the van all year-blog on that coming!). C.O.M.M.U.N.I.T.Y ! I was trying to appreciate how it must have felt for my folks to observe this web of relationships that Jon and I have woven, or which has engulfed us equally, when I realized that line up of encounters was not for their benefit, it was for mine. It gave me a moment to really appreciate this network of humans we have here in Colorado and it felt like a big strong hug topped of with sparkles, glitter and rainbows.
Describing my life in the west is not to discredit my actual family or the friends from back east whom I’ve known for a lifetime, but there’s something extremely special about this town of transplants and orphans. The friendships I have out here feel as real and organic as the ones I’ve had since birth. With time and age, I have become more confident in who I am and what makes me feel happy and complete. I feel lucky to live within a community where I can be true to myself and, at the same time, have extremely meaningful friendships and encounters with folks who embody a similar mindset and lifestyle. Finding confidence as I age has been a very cerebral journey for me and I’m grateful to be surrounded by people who compliment my confidence, rather than making me feel like I have to bend to fit their needs. I have friends who have moved to new places in their 30’s and they have spent years trying to seek out true friendships and hit their stride. I’m so grateful for the comfort and ease with which both of those things exist in my life out here in Boulder.
If you live in CO and you’re reading this then I likely know you, and affectionately refer to you as, being in one or more of the following categories (in no particular order):
- My ten20 girls
- My girls weekend group
- The Holly Crew (including orphan Thanksgiving)
- My work (ie LUH) people
- Friends from Boston, but we all live out here now
- The people I moved out here from Boston with
- From the 807 days
- Wednesday Night Pasta Rides
- My Skratch family
- Or, my favorite, I have no idea but we probably met because of bikes and/or Instagram
One of the one hundred reasons that Jon and I decided to travel in the van for a year was born out of trying to answer the question of “where do we want to be”. A few years ago, when the going got rough in life, Boulder didn’t seem comfortable to us. We couldn’t put our finger on it, nothing was “wrong”, but it didn’t feel “right” either. Now, here I am, years later, feeling uberly comfortable with my friends and life. I often refer to myself as having hit my Boulder Stride lately, but I’m walking away for some time and that’s hard. I know via text, phone calls and social media we will all stay connected (PLEASE BE IN TOUCH) but I want everyone to know that I don’t take my friendship or my family in Boulder for granted. Some people may embark upon a big life shift, such as the one we are taking on, because there are looking to run from or change something. While that might have been the case when this dream was born, it’s not the case now. It’s ok to be in a good place, yet still evoke a big change. I believe it’s because of my tight network that I feel strong enough to take the leap we are taking.
I often refer to those of us who live out here as transplant orphans. Things like Mothers & Fathers Day often get overlooked because many of our parents live far away. However, I had the recent occasion of attending a funeral from my friend’s mother. The moment when he looked out to his friends, and said, with a lump in his throat, a break in his voice and a tear in his eye, “thank you” to his community for their presence and support was powerful. It gave me pause as I truly appreciated that we, the transplant orphans, are each others family. The love I felt from and towards our community of friends in that moment was palpable.
So what I’m saying to my Colorado family is that I love you, I value you and I need you. Don’t forget about me/us because I want to fold back in to your lives as easily upon our return as things were before we left.