I wasn’t well-traveled until I reached my twenties. The first time I ever flew in an airplane was when I was eighteen and I was petrified. I went to California to attend a family wedding and after that trip, I pretty much wanted to go everywhere. I couldn’t believe that up until that point, I had never seen the other side of the country, let alone the whole planet.
Growing up, my family didn’t go on too many vacations. We weren’t as financially well-off as some of my friends. I had never even gone to Disney World as a child. Most of the memories I have were based in New Jersey, where I was born and raised, so it was a real treat whenever I did get to go anywhere outside of the Tri-state area.
I got into snowboarding when I was a teenager. My sister convinced me to try it and I ended up loving it — I still snowboard to this day. However, the closest mountains to where I lived were always too overcrowded in the Winter. They weren’t nearly vast nor wide enough to hold all of the skiers and snowboarders coming from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania or further.
I’ve always wanted to go to the mountains out west.
The first time that I ever visited Colorado was when I was 20 years old. I went to Boulder for a few days and the first thing that I got to see were the Flatirons. It was a sight that nearly took my breath away — It didn’t even look real. It looked like a canvas painting had been hung up as a backdrop in the sky. It was nothing compared to what I knew of back East. It was love at first sight. And I wasn’t even there for snowboarding. It was summertime.
Afew years later, two of my good friends got married and moved to Colorado. I was so jealous, but at the same time also excited to have a reason to go back and visit. In their short time of living there, I visited them twice.
The first time I visited them, I not only got to return to the Flatirons, but I also hiked it at about 7,000 feet in elevation during the Winter. It was even more incredible than the first time that I had set eyes on it.
The second time I visited them, my sister came and we finally went snowboarding. We went to Loveland Ski Area, which is a smaller mountain in comparison to the ones that most people travel to Colorado for — Vail, Steamboat, Breckenridge, Aspen, etc. Regardless, it was better than any mountain that I had gone to for snowboarding.
Now, flash forward to a month ago.
At the end of March, I had gone back to Colorado once again for a snowboarding trip with my boyfriend and his family. We went to Denver first for a few days, and then drove about 3 hours to Steamboat.
As the saying goes, “Third time’s a charm”
It was like falling in love all over again. I’ve fallen in love with the same state over and over again. I didn’t think it was possible to love the same place so much even after seeing it several times.
Aside from the beautiful views, the smoothness and vastness of the mountain trails, and the overall lack of overcrowding, one of the highlights of the trip was when my boyfriend and I were sitting on the ski lift next to an older couple who asked us,
“Where in Colorado do you guys live?”
I was internally screaming, thinking “They think we’re actually from here!” We couldn’t lie, so we confessed that we were just visiting from the east coast. They responded,
“Wow, you seem like Coloradans to me”
And for some reason, that was the highest compliment I felt I’ve received in a while.
For the past six years, I’ve lived in New York City, which couldn’t be more opposite a landscape from Colorado and other mountainous regions, as you can imagine.
In the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve traveled quite a bit to make up for my lack of exploration when I was younger. I traveled to California, Illinois, Texas, Arizona, Utah, California, and many other states. I finally even took my curiosity internationally. I traveled to Australia, Spain, and the Philippines. But for some reason, Colorado was always my favorite.
“The mountains are calling and I must go” — John Muir
I don’t know what it is about this particular location — Maybe it’s because I hold onto the memories that I have, which potentially supersede the reality of what it would be like if I actually packed my bags and moved there.
But, the irony in all of this is that my longing to move out west has always been coupled with my guilt to stay close to home.
Maybe that’s why I continuously come and go — to get the best of both worlds. To go away, but then take a little something back with me every time I return.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” — Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky