left & leaving (originally published August 19, 2010)

Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
A blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest,
The best parts of lonely,
Duct tape and soldered wires,
New words for old desires,
And every birthday card I threw away.
I’m back with scars to show,
Back where the streets I know
Will never take me anywhere but here…
–The Weakerthans, “Left & Leaving”

I’ve been in a weird state of constantly moving for about six weeks now.  I packed up and moved out of the house that I’ve been in for the past five years back in June, and spent all of July on an extended road trip following the Vans Warped Tour.  Now I’m staying at my parents’ house in Denver, until August 22nd, when I will officially become a dweller in New York City.

It struck me, when I left Denver for my roadtrip, how Colorado’s landscape, which I’m intimately familiar with (I’ve lived here 25 years), is strangely sticky.  I don’t usually think of it as such: Colorado is a place where humidity is only a rumor.  The soil is rocky, the eastern plains dusty.  The weather here, even the heat, always has a sharp edge to it, and when the weather changes, it does so abruptly.  “Sticky” is not an adjective that usually comes to me when thinking about Colorado.

But Colorado gets under your skin.  The smell of ponderosa pines when you stop at a rest stop; the clear air up in the mountains; the grasses that stick in your socks and the rocks that find themselves in your shoes.  I still have dust in my car that I recognize as coming to my road trip to New Mexico back in June.  You never get all that dust out.  Colorado hangs around with you, hitches a ride, reminds you of it at unexpected moments.

I’ve been functioning for the past two months by not really thinking about it.  When you’re doing something like moving, it’s easy to not think about it; there’s plenty of logistics to distract you.  And if you procrastinate, like I do, it’s even easier.  But then every now and then it hits me, what it means to be leaving the Meeting, to be clocking out of the Tattered Cover, to be packing up all my stuff and putting it on a truck and shipping it all away, and I feel unmoored.  I’ve got to be totally crazy and stupid to do what I’m doing.

On the other hand, I know that Colorado has, for better or worse, defined how I think the world should be.  I know I’ve got sand in my frame pack and pebbles in my socks; I know that I’m not really unmoored, just exploring.  I know it’ll be fine.  I know that I couldn’t leave Colorado behind if I tried.

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