Everyone knows that the holidays are typically when you head home. Home means different things to different people; sometimes it doesn’t even mean a location, but a group of people. Sometimes it is getting away from people and heading to a place. For me, home has more than one meaning, because I have more than one home. On the one hand it’s going to Target with Mom, Scotch tasting with Dad, and visiting my siblings at their houses. On the other hand home is here in Colorado.
I just moved here in early October, so I am still adjusting. That means getting used to traffic, memorising new routes, and learning new skills for work; but it also means exploring, and I love that. I bet you do too! Making Colorado my new home means that I’m making a place for myself out here. I’ve switched jobs three times so far. I thought I might use that college degree of mine and get a job in marketing and promotions, but it turned out that during the two months in that job I felt remarkably miserable. Now I’m back doing what I love, which is working with animals. I enjoy walking into work, hearing several dozen dogs bark hello at me, and settling in for a day full of flying fur and sloppy dog kisses. Finding a job I love, was step one.
Another triumph is finding a coffee shop that I feel at home in, which took a while! Huckleberry Roasters is the perfect combination of comfortable, relaxing, and coffee-shop chic. I especially love that I can get a bottomless mug of their coffee for a relatively cheap price.
A couple of days ago I went on my first solo hike in the mountains, and what a grand adventure that was. Snow, mountains, angry squirrels, a herd of elk and a vast wilderness with just me and my backpack somewhere in the middle of it. These are all elements of life that make me feel at home out here.
In my mind there are different kinds of Colorado: first is the bustling city life of Denver. I can take the train downtown and wander around, enjoying the urban atmosphere. I have a stack of museums to visit, and plenty of pubs and restaurants on my mental list of mouthwatering places to visit. I spent the last eight years living in a much smaller city, so having the whole of Denver to explore is exciting! The other kind of Colorado is the scenic kind: mountains, hiking, people in their expensive active wear with the their hardy dogs trekking out in the wilderness. Cute little mountain towns that have art galleries and festivals just about every weekend. I live in the busy city, but five days a week I drive 45 minutes north to take care of dogs in a small town with a stunning view of the Rockies. It feels like the best of both worlds to me.
The things that make Denver feel like home to me, are I think, things that are universally sought by anyone who has moved far from where they started out. I live with good friends here. They not only rent my living space to me, but they have also bent over backwards to make me feel welcome. How difficult this transition would be if I was all alone! They welcomed my menagerie of pets which I could never have left behind. Since animals have always been important to me finding a community of animal people at work has helped me to feel like I am finally creating a space for myself out here. I have often felt lost and adrift since I moved and having a little community to be a part of creates an anchor for me. Since my birthday is in December and I am also a big fan of Christmas, my friends made sure that we went on a proper Christmas tree shopping trip, and even hung up the lights right away. They don’t mind my going a little bonkers about decorations and watching Christmas-themed movies. Now, that is love.
Something else that says home to me is the culture here. Almost everyone here is a ‘transplant’. In fact, I’ve heard people born and raised in Colorado refer to themselves as unicorns because they are so rare. People come for the mountains – that spirit of adventure that pushes us to leave our comfort zones and explore. A large portion of the population is made up of millennials, including myself, so there are plenty of cafes, gastro pubs, regular pubs, thrift stores and parks to get lost in. Just last night I took my beloved roller skates to a place called Skate City and had a blast looping the track and stretching my roller derby muscles. The eclectic is welcomed with enthusiasm and open arms. I can wear a cute dress I thrifted on Friday, and put on my Smartwool shirt and some hiking boots for a trip to the mountains on Saturday. Maybe it’s because no one really knows me out here, or because I feel like I’m making a fresh start, or even because when you are suddenly so far from the familiar you rely more on yourself than you ever did; but I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin here. From a negative perspective, I think one would call this feeling “sticking out like a sore thumb”, but as I mentioned, the eclectic is welcomed here in Colorado, where all the transplants bring something new and interesting to the table.
I love how different parts of life in Colorado are clicking into place as I find my groove here. All the pieces of home are starting to come together – finding a cafe I feel at home in to write, a grocery store that has my weird foods for a decent price. A place to skate that’s cheap and adorably kitschy, and a radio channel I enjoy listening to for my long commute. All these small things that fall into place and provide a routine. As everyone knows, routines are made to be broken, so now that I have a comfortable routine I can feel free to break it and head out on another Colorado adventure.
I’m sure that it will take me a while to really feel like I am at home here and not just like I am on an extended vacation, but I am game for the challenge. I can’t wait to see what else Colorado has in store for me.
This article is part of our AT HOME series featuring stories from and about the meaning of ‘home’.
This is a guest post by Eryka.
Eryka has grown up with a love of travel, fostered in part by her parents, and in part by the books she reads. She loves reading, writing, her cats and bunny, and adventures – especially the last minute kind. Recently she and her animals packed up and moved across the country to Colorado where she has the opportunity for plenty of exploring. Follow her adventures on her blog Captain I am Eryka and her Instagram @CaptainIAmEryka.Tweet