I’m in Denver. For the last eight years, the signature white-capped mountain airport has meant a brief trip home. It has meant my dad’s 60th birthday, a good friend’s wedding, a family vacation. It has always been restorative and much needed, but never permanent. It was usually only half of the round-trip ticket back to wherever I was living at the time. This time though, I don’t have a ticket back to anywhere. After eight years of living in Senegal, New York, Montana, London, Thailand, and most recently Berlin, we have decided to come home. Or at least close to home.
Our move to Denver may be a surprise to some and not a surprise to others. I find myself somewhere in between. I feel that if I’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that life takes us places we never thought we’d go. Even the most intentionally laid path can jerk you suddenly to the right or to the left. Since I’ve always liked an adventure, I’ve found it’s best not to U-turn, but to wander boldly down the path unexplored, even if that path is one that leads you unexpectedly closer to home.
At the moment, I’m writing this blog with the Colorado sun on my face and big drifts of fluffy white snow outside the window. I’m staying with my good friends Caity and Drew, who I’ve known for almost ten years. My brother is a ten minute drive away and most of my friends and family can now call me in the same time-zone on a regular phone line. These things might not seem like a big deal, but to a person who has lived primarily abroad since college, they are the sparkly small stuff of life and make this transition feel like the right move in the most exciting and contented of ways.
I think writing about the phrase “settling down” is important to this blog because it is a phrase that I have dreaded since I can remember and to be quite honest, still gives me the heebie-jeebies now. I think at some point, I came to associate the phrase “settling down” with moving back to the United States, or maybe even staying in one place for several years. In all the places I’ve lived and loved, I still dragged myself up and away because being content, knowing a place to well, feeling comfortable meant becoming complacent. Of course, I would leave and I would/still do miss all the places and people I left behind, but the rush of the new would be enough to keep me going on this path.
Recently, both Ingo and I have felt less desire for the rush of the new and more of desire to build a community, a home, and a life where we can come back to. For that we need each other, jobs that bring us joy, and a place we can see ourselves living. We have found, not so much to our astonishment, that that place is going to be Denver. If that is labeled as “settling down” than I guess we’ve done it. And I don’t feel bad at all.
We all get to decide for ourselves if “settling down” is a negative phrase, one we feel comfortable and happy to apply to our lives, or one not needed at all. While I’ll probably opt with the latter, for the first time, I don’t care if others choose to see us that way or not. I know I will never stop exploring. Whether that means exploring through books, through learning new things, through road trips to our national parks, or in the international trips I’ll be able to take with my new company, I feel invigorated in this intentional move to set our roots here. And most importantly, I’m happier and more confident than I’ve ever been.
Ingo and I understand how lucky we’ve been to travel all the places we’ve traveled, mostly separately, and more recently, together. We are so grateful for all of the experiences, people, life lessons, hospitality, and stories that we’ve been privileged to know in each new place. It is with these memories and experiences that we intend to build our life upon here in Denver.
This isn’t the end of our wandering. In fact, I can’t wait to wander the Rocky Mountains in snow and in sun. I can’t wait to ride my horse on my ranch more often than I have in years. I can’t wait to explore the city of Denver and look forward to when I know it well enough to truly call it my city. With my new job, I look forward to the places I will wander alongside young Americans seeing places in the world for the first time.
This move to Denver feels a lot like having my cake and eating it too. I’ve never really understood that saying because what else are you supposed to do with a cake besides eat it? So if you want to hang out in Denver or even give me a call in the same time zone, I’ll be eating a big slice of cake while looking out at my new home view of the Rocky Mountains. I’ll be here for awhile and I look forward to hearing from you.