Contemporary Fiction Author, Infrequent Blogger & Retired Clown

Moving to Colorado: You’re on Your Own, Kid

Moving to Colorado: You’re on Your Own, Kid

“Don’t you ever wonder,
if you took a left turn instead of taking a right,
you could be somebody different?”


I am in high school. 

In less than a year, I’ve lost both a cousin and a classmate to tragic accidents. My brain can’t understand. How can a life be cut so short so quickly? I am lost. I need purpose.

My hometown, a little seaside tourist village with ancient history, announces its first student exchange program with our sister city, Aviles, Spain. I apply. I am accepted. 

I am on an airplane over the Atlantic, watching the sunrise. I’ve never been away to summer camp, and yet here I sit en route to a foreign country where I do not speak the language. 

I am sixteen. I am terrified. What have I done?

In an ancient stone building I take ceramics classes. I explore a dozen cities scattered across the countryside of Northern Spain. I drink cider and listen to bagpipes and gorge myself on paella and fresh seafood and warm bread. 

I visit resplendent cathedrals and a chapel carved into a cliff, but it is standing on top of a mountain in the Picos de Europa that I find my peace. I pack it between my souvenirs and carry it home across the Atlantic.

Eleven days after I return, the Twin Towers fall.

“I dare you to move like today never happened.”


I am in college.

All I’ve wanted since I was eight years old was to be a writer. I came to school as a creative writing major, but my parents said that was too narrow. Now I’m studying public relations. Now I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. 

My dad’s cousin and his lovely wife have lived in Colorado for years, but it’s our first visit. I thought I knew mountains. And then I saw the Rockies.

We drive for two weeks, my parents and I, from Colorado to Utah and back. I touch snow in July, I stand beneath the powerful Delicate Arch, I bike along Boulder Creek, I take a train ride on the edge of a cliff.

One night in a hotel room in Durango, I watch a young senator from Illinois give a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention. I think he might be something one day.

On our last night before returning to Florida, I write in my travel journal “Who knows? Maybe one day I will live in Colorado.”

“I’ll be your lighthouse, you’ll be one for me.”


I am in the real world.

I have a job and a mortgage and insurance. I also have a new tribe of friends; they all revolve around an iconic black and white lighthouse where we work. We play trivia, we go to concerts, we take boat rides, we laugh. 

Then comes the storm.

A hurricane hits my hometown. We evacuate to Alabama – not just to escape the storm, but because days before, my last grandparent passed away. Hours after watching the destruction of my beautiful city on TV, I stand before my family and eulogize my nana. 

My last guiding light has been extinguished. 

I am adrift.

Back home, we rally together. We haul yard debris, pull up wet carpet, and tear out ruined drywall. We donate blankets and sheets and clothes, we raise money, we patronize local businesses. We do what we can.

Now it is November. We are watching the election results come in. 

I think of my grandmothers, both born before women could vote. They fought for this day. Candles are lit, celebration is imminent. One giant step for womankind. 

Darkness falls.

I don’t recognize the world anymore. 

It doesn’t want me here. 

Maybe I don’t want to be here either.

“Someday, I will come to my senses, stop sitting on fences in fear.”


I am in a snowglobe.

Heavy flakes, wet and white, fall on my head. They melt in my scarf. I collected snowglobes all my life, the eternal consolation prize for a Florida kid. Never did I dream that I would some day find myself inside of one.

It is every bit as magical as I dreamed. I am with a person I love, watching a musician I love, in a place I love – though I’d never been here before tonight. With each ice cold flake that brushes my skin, I am waking up. 

How long was I asleep?

Years are tucked into the back of my mind, a growing, distant memory. Lockdowns, quarantines, my first Christmas spent alone. Vaccinations, masks, and endless gallons of sanitizer. 

Before that, it was years of antidepressants, failed relationships, never feeling good enough, friends moving on while I seemed to be standing still. It was giving everything I had to a company only to have my future controlled by rooms full of men who told me they would forget my name if I wasn’t in their line of sight. 

Now, in this bright and beautiful place, those years are mercifully buried beneath the pure white snow.

It makes a blank canvas.

A fresh start. 

On the stage before us, Zach Bryan leans his head back and I sing with him, pushing the words into the night from the depth of my lungs.

I want to feel it all.
Joy, pain and sky.
Let me go, down the line.
We all burn, burn, burn, then die.

“Pack up your car, put a hand to your heart,
say whatever you feel, be wherever you are.”


I am on the road.

My car is loaded down with my most precious treasures. A Datil pepper plant, my mom’s jewelry box, my grandmothers’ bibles, my grandfather’s World War II tear gas pen, and my eight year-old rescue mutt.

I am heading west, watching the sun set over swaying fields of wheat that stretch from one horizon to the other. I have never lived more than three hours from home. Yet here I am, six states away from family, friends, and the ocean. 

I am thirty-eight. I am terrified. What have I done? 

“You’re on your own kid. You can face this.”


I am alive.

I hike in the Rockies, I watch hot air balloons, I shovel snow, I get lost in the dark, I take long walks, I shovel more snow. I fall in love with horses, I try new restaurants, I make new friends. 

Some days I am lonely. Some days I am not.

But every day, I am glad that I decided to take a left instead of a right.

I think I might be somebody different.

“So I’m gettin’ rid of the habits that
I feel are real good at wastin’ my time.
No regrets, baby, I just think that maybe
it’s natural when things lose their shine.
So other things can glow, I’ve gotten older now,
I know how to take care of myself.
I found a deeper well.”


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