Yesterday I headed to the central library downtown on a quest for a new book or two. I recently read the Hunger Games series after much reluctance and procrastination (I'm not usually one for sci-fi or action themes) but my gosh were they good. It had been so long since I had read a book (or three!) that immersed me in fantasy and fiction and imagery so much so that I couldn't put it down. Thankfully I was recovering last week so I had a clear schedule that allowed me to devour the series in a matter of days but with the satisfaction of finishing a great book comes the longing for it to continue or a new one to take its place.
A friend recently posted her favorite "adventure" book recommendations and one in particular caught my eye so I was thrilled to see it in stock at the library. I cradled a copy in my arms and casually combed the nearby aisles. Fifteen minutes later I plopped a stack of books down on the checkout scanner, tore off my receipt, and walked out like I'd just robbed the place.
I beelined it to my car and pulled away with 34 minutes left on the meter and the mountain of literature on the passenger seat. I drove down Broadway, busy with lunch hour traffic, in the opposite direction of our house. I knew I couldn't crack the cover of my next book from our couch- I was due for a change in scenery. A pitstop for a venti iced coffee and a right on Downing St. brought me to my destination.
Wash (Washington) Park is post-card perfect. It's lush summer flower beds, glassy ponds, winding paths, and mature trees are a stunning backdrop for "the beautiful people", as Dan and I like to call them, who jog, bike, skate, and stroll there. The surrounding streets are lined with renovated bungalows and modern rebuilds, making it one of the most desirable, and expensive, neighborhoods in Denver. It's cute and charming and filled with character and very upper middle class.
We didn't know much about Wash Park when we were house hunting years ago, but it would have been out of both our financial and geographic reach. Still, I had to stop myself from thinking if our lives would look or feel different, if we would have been happier with Denver or Colorado, if we lived there instead. Instead of in a condo squashed between four busy streets and apartment buildings and noisy neighbors, if we had a little yard of our own for the dogs, if I could feel safe sitting alone in a park or jogging down the street without being cat-called,
and if we were surrounded by people that looked like us.
Good grief, no- I don't mean in terms of race, I mean in terms of lifestyle: young couples, working professionals, people with pets, new homeowners, active friends jogging together or playing frisbee in the field. People we could call friends or share community with. Neither of us had lived in a "big" city before moving to Denver, but when we bought our place we pictured lots of parties and gatherings, befriending our neighbors, and being near the center of all the action of downtown. Instead we share walls with people we've never even spoken to and are constantly surrounded by people but feel more isolated than ever. It's so different than what we had hoped for and failed attempts to reach out to those around us just add fuel to the fire.
Yesterday I sat in the grass at the park and read, took pictures of pretty flowers, breathed in the smell of humid air and soil, and smiled at strangers walking by, wishing everyday could feel like that. I felt a world away, if only for a few hours, then I drove back to our house during rush hour and fought back a flood of bitter thoughts.
I write this with a twinge of guilt and fear of sounding like a broken record but I need to be honest about where my head and heart are right now for the sake of myself and others. I know what it's like to move away to a place you've never been, to try and do it all on your own, and to feel disappointment when things don't always go as planned. It's. Freaking. Hard. (Hello, adulthood!)I also know this is a temporary time in life and we could be right on the brink of a new beginning, but I don't want to dismiss the truth behind these feelings because. I hope to look back on this chapter and its challenges and say "damn, that was hard, but so worth it to be where we are today".
In the meantime, I discovered that a venti iced coffee, trip across town, and a yellowing library book can make for one satisfying soul-journey... pack accordingly.