♫: Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You – Gotye
I left Sioux Falls, South Dakota one really cold, windy day in December of 2002. I still remember following the drifting U-Haul trailer pulled behind my parent’s van, swinging in the wind on I-90 and splashing cold ice pellets of snow back at me as it went. I was full of feelings of joy and wonder and excitement and, and, and.
Fear feels a lot like the stinging, cold bitterness of a South Dakota winter, I discovered on that one-way trip. It has no taste, smell, or even sound really; yet you still somehow know it’s there. It freaking hurts your nose all of your body parts nonetheless, it numbs.
I had spent my entire life in Sioux Falls; my entire life in the exact same small house save for a quick stay on a concrete-bench-cleverly-disguised-as-a-cheap-canvas-sofa-from-IKEA in my sister’s apartment right before I moved. My parents had sold that house, you see, sold 20 years worth of memories in mere minutes to a neighbor as soon as the FOR SALE sign had hit the lawn on a late summer day. He was a big, tan burly man with a black beard, a quiet voice, a small white maltese, a loud motorcycle, and a yippy-yappy red-headed wife.
“YOU’VE MADE MY LIFE A LIVING HELL!” I had heard him yell at his wife one day, several years prior. This was followed by a violent slam of the door as he stomped outside, holding the maltese. It is hard to look adequately angry when holding a small, fuzzy dog; it was the first time that I had ever heard him speak.
“We’ve always liked your house.” he said softly that day in September of 2002, emphasized with a quick shrug as he pointed to the FOR SALE sign. He was still holding the maltese, had it wedged under his armpit in its usual spot, and I wasn’t quite sure if he was speaking for him and his wife or for him and the dog. I will never know; it was both the second and the last time that I had ever heard him speak. “Well. I guess I can’t really charge you much in realtor fees for…this.” the realtor said to my parents, followed with a nervous laugh.
So we packed our bags, had a quick wedding for my sister in the garden my parents spent 20 years carefully constructing (which is still there just as we left it, by the way–the pond, the gazebo, and the row of colorful birdhouses my dad built), and that was it. We left.
“Ah, so. Um. Where…are you going to go?” my mom then asked awkwardly, giving me a side-eye. It was a pretty excellent question.
“Colorado.” I finally told her a few weeks later. Also awkwardly, but it was a pretty excellent answer.
Which is how I ended up on I-90 in that December of ’02, 21-years old and scared out of my mind, trying desperately not to show it. 21-year olds aren’t supposed to be scared, after all; they are supposed to be daft and foolhardy and brave. Even in moments of complete discomposure–I had been in enough bars, attended enough college parties, and seen enough MTV’s Real World at that point in my life to know it. But I was driving towards a new city, driving towards (perhaps) a new life. It isn’t every day that a young girl does this, you know–makes a move! Does something nervy. Packs her bags, leaves her lifelong friends and family, and moves to a big city! A city with opportunity! A city with adventure! A city that is pretty much just like her old one except a bit bigger, and not quite so flat (mountains blah blah blah), has a longer wait to get into the Olive Garden on a Friday night, and, according to Facebook, is also home to just about half of her graduating class.
But while Denver might have a lot of cozy Midwesternisms about it, it has some important differences too: better restaurants, better shopping, better skiing (sorry Great Bear), bona fide state income taxes (ouch!), sterile Targets that boastfully deem themselves ‘super’, and the most important thing of all: culture.
Culture that goes beyond corn fields, churches, legalized video lottery, and arguing over which way a naked David statue
should face on a busy downtown street. Culture like the DAM
(YSL in March!
). Culture like Adele Arakawa’s never-changing hairdo (I bumped into it
her on a flight last year and it’s just
in person). Culture like the fun hippies of Boulder, culture like toasty-hot summer shows at Red Rocks, culture like being stuck on I-70 near Georgetown with the rest of the entire state on a snowy Sunday in January, beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.
So this is what I wore last Friday, first to a super tasty dinner at The Capital Grille
and then while being surrounded by shrieking 10-year old girls at the DCPA–an easy take on winter whites. (My apologies for these looking a lil’ odd – it was cloudy out, so I had to throw on some flash!)