I’m pretty sure my lot in life is to learn the most obvious things in the most difficult ways. And of course by “most difficult” I mean “really not that difficult, but because I have a blog and I LOVE to exaggerate, I’ll make it sound difficult.”
While you might assume this post to be about dating, it’s actually about the move I almost made to Salida, Colorado.
Salida is a rural town located two-and-a-half hours southwest of Denver. It’s a small Mayberryish town filled with incredibly interesting people. The landscape is stunning; the town is situated on the Arkansas River in a bowl that’s surrounded by mountains.
Here’s what the Colorful Colorado website has to say about Salida (these photos are from their site as well):
Salida is the county seat of Chaffee County and its largest city, with a population of approximately 5,300. The city is the service, supply, and tourism center for the Upper Arkansas Valley. Salida is a REAL Colorado mountain town. Beautifully nestled between the Sangre de Cristo and Sawatch Mountain ranges, this central Colorado Historic downtown at 7,000 feet elevation boasts a liveliness driven by artistic minds and outdoor enthusiasts.
People here wear smiles, the sun shines almost all the time, and you can bike, raft, hike, fish, climb, chill, whenever you want, any time of year. The townspeople are diverse so you don’t get just mountain bikers, skiers, and kayakers, you also experience Colorado ranchers and old miners, artists, and farmers, so just about everyone fits into this Colorado lifestyle.
I’ll point out that the Spanish word salida translates to “exit” in English…and that certainly was an element of what I hoped to achieve by moving there. Certainly I was looking forward to escaping the cockroachy invasion of 100,000 people each year to the Denver metro area (and that might be a low estimate). Annoyingly, I really like all the recent transplants I’ve met, which melts my bitter native stance a bit. (I’ve learned to have audio books and/or podcasts in my car at all times and to work odd hours in order to avoid the worst of the traffic.)
More than running from anything, however, I was running toward something. I was excited about the lifestyle I would have in Salida: the dog walks up S Mountain (not its real name, but what locals call it), the clean air to breathe, all that room for my spirit to expand and roam free.
My soul-family friend and muse/spirit animal, Jenn, was going to sell me her house. I love this house. It might be considered small by most people’s standards but it seemed HUGE to me (being someone who dwells in a less-than-500-square-foot place now). What I could do with another 300 square feet and a back yard! I had plans to make raised beds so I could grow some of my own food; I would create a nook where I would start every day by sipping my homemade latte and writing; I had a vague idea of colors to add to the walls, and I imagined all my books nestled into the built-in bookshelves. I was fairly sure I would add a pedestal sink to the bathroom along with some wainscoting. I would check for hardwoods under the carpet. Having spent many nights in the house, I knew exactly what it would be like to wake up in the morning and lumber to the bathroom and then to the kitchen to let the dogs out.
Here’s the sketch I made of the house to help me figure out how to arrange furniture (clearly, I was not messing around):
I imagined what it would be like to work from home. I imagined the few friends I have in Salida popping over unannounced just to say hi. I knew it would take time for my nervous system to adjust to the slower pace. I loved that I’d be able to walk everywhere. I loved that I would prepare most of my own meals, rather than being tempted to drive thru any of the 80,000 fast-food places I pass on my way to and from work every day now. I imagined the inspiration I would get from the landscape. For months I had been living parallel lives: my current life here (in my body) and my future life in Salida (in my mind).
There were many months from when I was under contract to buy the house until the time I knew I could occupy it. This large amount of time was a tricky thing for my mind. It gave me lots of time to worry about whether my choice was a smart one. On the macro level: “Will I miss everyone in Denver and find myself living in Salida but wishing I were in Denver?” “Despite the home being an amazing long-term investment, will buying it make me house poor and how will I feel about that?” “Will my 18-year-old car hold out for all the trips I’ll be making to and from Denver (for work and to see people)?” “If for some reason I needed to find a new job, could I find anything in Salida that would pay what I require to make ends meet?” “Am I committing relationship suicide by moving there?” (I had dated the one lesbian I knew in the area and that hadn’t worked…so who else might there be to date? What were the odds of importing someone?)
I found the doubts creeping in. My enthusiasm for the idea slowly and very subtly started to wane. I could hear it in the way I was or wasn’t telling people that I was planning to move soon. By then I was committed, though. I was under contract, I’d had the house inspected, my boss had given me permission to work remotely, I’d mentioned to my landlord that I might be leaving, I had my mom on board to put me and the dogs up whenever I was in Denver…
And then about 60 days from close, as I was in the process of locking my loan rate, the process hit a glitch. Not a totally insurmountable glitch, but one that could pose danger to my friend’s ability to buy her next place if I couldn’t overcome it. And the most telling thing for me—the information I most required from my own soul—was the full-body sense of relief I got when I heard I might not get the loan. It was the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders. It’s exactly the feeling I got when my ex and I finally decided to call it quits on our relationship. It’s a feeling that unmistakably means this is the right thing.
And this is where the hard part came in: letting that feeling of relief be all I needed to know. My mind felt left out! It chimed in very loudly about many things—mostly with worry about how to tell Jenn that I’d changed my mind. On the positive side, I knew that she’d make way more on the house by putting it on the market than by selling it to me, and I knew that telling her right away would give her plenty of time to find a new buyer. I also knew that telling her would be the end of the dream—one that she and I had co-created together.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. She took the news like a champ, because a) she never ceases to amaze me, and b) she’s an Aquarius and can roll with literally anything life throws at her. I mean, she runs a circus for a living!
It took a couple weeks to stop waking up every morning in Salida and to stop walking my dogs up S Mountain on my lunch break. I had to let my future life in Salida slowly recede from my mind.
Here’s what my heart had to say about the choice NOT to move there:
You can draw on the energy of Salida any time; it is a supportive energy for you… Change is good and moving is not necessarily required. You could do a major purge of your apartment, a deep clean, maybe get a new desk to write at… Your apartment is a blessing until the next EASY thing comes along. That which you imagined creating for yourself in Salida you can do from where you are. Cooking your meals, maybe doing yoga, long walks with the dogs, writing…
Ahhh, so here was the obvious-not-obvious wisdom in all this: I can be NOW everything I projected into the future Salida Erin. I can be Salida Erin in Denver. I can create a space and a ritual in my daily life for writing. I can draw on the inspiration of the energy of Salida at any moment I choose. I can merge the parallel lives (current Denver Erin and future Salida Erin) back into Erin-Being-Present-in-Her-Life Erin.
And the other huge lesson: I came to be even more grateful for what I currently have in my life. I have an apartment where I’m allowed to have my animals. I have an apartment I can afford. It’s near one of the most beautiful parks in Denver. I have a job working with great people I’ll still get to see every work day. I’ll still get to have weekly date nights with my bestie Michelle to watch crap television. I’ll still be near my other bestie, Katie, whose existence in my life has shaped my life more than I’ll ever truly know (and who I dislike the idea of being far from).
And most importantly, I still have Salida. I can go there whenever I desire. And when I’m there, I’ll get to spend time with my muse/spirit animal, Jenn, soaking in everything about her that inspires me and helps me live a more authentically creative life.
So thank you, Project Move Erin to Salida, for being everything I needed you to be.