Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Goodbye Kentucky. Hello Colorado.
Before leaving Kentucky, I worked for Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs as marketing director for the Lexington and Frankfort offices. Upon announcing my resignation and the reason why, many co-workers marveled at what I was about to do. One called me brave. I didn't really see myself as brave at that point, but today I understand why someone may say that. I knew no one in Colorado, my cousins having long since moved on to other states. I'd later meet a couple of people while out for an interview before I actually make the move. Even “braver” I'm told going without having secured a job first. Brave or crazy, I'm not sure, but the good news was I landed a job offer two days before I left Kentucky. Life was falling into place.
I headed out early that April morning, giving my worried mom reassurance with one last hug that I would be fine. By the time I landed for the night in Kansas, I'd learn in a phone call home letting mom and dad know I was okay that tragedy struck in Littleton, the very community where I shopped for my apartment. Columbine. It wouldn't be until I arrive the next day that I would fully grasp the severity of what actually happened. Honestly, I don't think anyone at the time understood what had happened. I've shared in previous blog posts about this experience and how Columbine would instantly hook me into the Littleton community.
After arriving to Denver, I lived in a La Quinta Inn for almost two weeks while I sorted out the final arrangements on my apartment which was across the street and park from Columbine High School. I had only that which I could carry in my Toyota Tercel when I headed West, and given it was a small car, that wasn't much. I moved into my new place with nothing but the clothes I brought with me. The first night in my apartment I slept on the floor; two hours into a sleepless night, I decided to go to Walmart to get an air mattress. They were closed! The Walmart in Kentucky stayed open 24 hours! How can it be closed!?! No, Toto, I don't think we're in Kentucky anymore.
It would be another two weeks before I'd start my new job with Grant Thornton LLP as marketing director for both the Denver and Colorado Springs offices. I spent time getting affairs often associated with a move in order: Colorado driver's license, license plates, banking accounts, change of address cards completed, etc. I also visited the Columbine memorial that developed across the street in Clement Park. The amount of people that came through there was overwhelming. So many in fact that the once lush sodded grass was reduced to grass-less mud thanks to April snow showers. I had to show my ID in order to get into my apartment complex. Media trucks were everywhere. This madness would last at least a month.
I hung out with a gal I met only the week before at a legal marketing conference – Aleisha. She was a godsend of an angel who reached out to me with empathy having herself transplanted there from Texas knowing no one. Our friendship developed as we got to know each other and she showed me around the area.
I learned a lot in the first few weeks in Colorado. You can't drink as much in the higher altitude as you would at sea level; you get plastered faster if you do. The higher altitude will take your breath away, literally, even from climbing a simple flight of stairs. It took several months before my lungs adjusted to the thinner air. Colorado has no humidity, which means the air is drier, which means drier skin. I had to drink more water and lather with lotion more then I've ever in my life. They have these lanes called HOV lanes; high occupancy vehicles meaning no cars unless there are more than one person in it could expressly travel through traffic.
In the time before starting my job, the reality of this major change in my life hit me and homesickness set in. I didn't know but a couple of people. I missed my dogs which were in my parents' safekeeping until they brought my furniture out the next month. I missed my family. I missed familiarity.
Yet, here I was. Despite the tears and the fears that crept up, I dealt with the realization that life as I had known it in Kentucky was no more. A new life in Colorado, unknown, uncertain, and for reasons still unclear to me, had begun.