Going away west, coming home east

It’s been that way since I can remember. 

Even after years of living in Colorado and Arizona, I always think of my home as New Hampshire and my home airport Boston. 

From 2004 to 2012 my home airport was Denver and often confused it by saying Boston when I began traveling frequently. 

Today I’m on my first trip back to Colorado for the Leadville Marathon and to spend time with Mary, Whitney and George; three, true forever friends.  

It’s been over two years since I left and I feel like I’m coming home.

But Colorado wasn’t my original western place despite Denver being the first city I moved to at 17 with a plan to live there permanently. I came home after a few days. My first western dream-place was originally Montana, a place with far fewer people and more wildlife; or so I had heard and experienced with frequent trips in my 20s. 

I dreamed of the west for a decade and tried to figure out a way to get there; I was too scared to go without a job. In 2004 I finagled a way to move to Steamboat for my job – so Colorado was chosen for me. Almost every year while living in Steamboat or Granby, I thought of moving home but never acted upon it. Then I had a chance to move to Tucson and escape cold, mountain town living, essentially running away from a place that I thought would be my forever-place. I took the Tucson job and moved to the southwest knowing noone. 

Colorado had its grasp on me and three years later I moved back to the place I left, for a job that is my favorite occupation to date: editor of a newspaper.  Denver was my home airport again.

Just under two years later I moved back to New Hampshire; for many reasons. In reality, running away, running back. I’m a runner; a self inflicted label I want to change. 

I run in two-to-three year increments; a pattern I’ve followed all my life. The thing is – I’m not afraid of endings and I’m not scared of beginnings; it’s the quiet times of staying still and stagnant that frighten me the most. It’s two years into this stint back in New Hampshire and finally feel like I’m getting my footing back; and being the person that is joyful, engaged in outdoor pursuits and reaching athletic goals. 

This feeling started with a bike, a mountain bike. Well, it started, really, when I got into the Leadville 100 Run. To finish this race would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted that feeling to cross that finish line. I started with so many baby steps and here I am two month before the race prepared for the next cycle of training. I’m so ready and feeling confident. But it was the mountain bike that reminded me of joy – the joy of downhill riding and laughing. You don’t really get that joy from running, or at least I don’t. Mountain biking teaches you about living in the moment. Running is more mental, calculating. 

Of all the races I could’ve entered or been excited about, why Leadville? Why did the sequence of events happen that led me on this journey back to Colorado? Why did Colorado get chosen for me again? I think it comes back to going away west, coming home east. It was the opposite for Wallace Stegner who wrote that he was born a westerner and had been coming home west his entire life. Maybe Leadville is my coming home west – the fulfillment of the hero’s journey where you go out on adventures and then try to find your way home.

My favorite thing to hear on my phone when mapping a destination: Arrived

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