Words that come to mind when I think of the term “gypsy” include nomadic, unconventional, migration, performer, colorful, independent, and caravan. That’s what one of my coworkers suggested I was when I told her I was picking up and moving from New York to Colorado, a place I’d only been once, a “modern day gypsy.” While I don’t necessarily consider myself unconventional, and while I certainly hope to lead a colorful existence, it’s an exciting and somewhat romantic thought to think that there might be some truth to that.
After graduating form the University of San Diego with an English degree, I was ready to try something different. I craved the stability and normality of a nine-to-five job, but also was looking for the uncertainty of living in a new city and state. I wanted to test out the “East Coast work ethic” that I’d always heard my dad talk about (he was raised in Buffalo, NY), but also wasn’t sure where to start with the kinds of positions I should apply for.
Deciding that we might as well try out as big of a city as we could think of, my boyfriend and I packed up our dog and U-Haul and drove across the country, landing outside of New York City in Rockland County, just a train ride away from Manhattan. I found a job as an Administrative Assistant in Midtown and was immediately immersed in a fast-paced corporate world that was completely new to me. I spent over two years there, commuting by train for a little under two hours each way every day with the rest of the suits and ties of the city.
After two and a half years in New York, I was once again ready for a change, not feeling that it was the place that I wanted to settle and thinking about where I could go next. I had proven to myself that I had the work ethic of the big city. We explored it too, taking in shows, sights, tours, and little pockets of entertainment and culture. We could drive for hours and reach at least three different states, and the whole Northeast in all its summer greenery and all its autumn colors was accessible and available to us.
I think, though, that some of the things that had initially attracted me to the big city are what ended up repelling me from it. At first, I loved the idea of a gigantic city and being a cog in the huge inner gears that kept the city running, making it hum. I wanted a small, physical space within the city carved out for myself, which I got in the form of my cubicle. I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. After two years, though, I began to feel like just a small cog and began to feel claustrophobic thinking about how many other little spaces people had carved out for themselves all around me, from the lateral lines of the floor of my building to the vertical stacks of the stories of those buildings, apartments, and conference rooms all around me. I didn’t have to be part of the big city to be part of something bigger than me. I could find that in other places through other means. I was looking for something more personable and something different.
Our interest in Colorado literally started with the build up realization that we had never heard anything negative about the Greater Denver Area. Whether it was an offhand comment by a friend who had just visited Denver or a conversation with a fellow passenger on a cross-country flight connecting through Denver, we only heard positives, and we decided to visit the area earlier this year. All it took was three days of walking through Boulder, LoDo, Red Rocks, and other locales to convince us over our Bailey’s and coffees on the plane ride home that we wanted to make the move, and that is when the planning began.
We asked ourselves why we shouldn’t move specifically to Boulder, even closer to the mountains, but still with the benefit of having a larger city within driving distance. We thought about how fun it would be to live in a college town primarily bonded by one college team and one set of professional sports teams, and how much of a healthier lifestyle we felt we’d live here. I read James Michener’s book, Centennial, and was so excited to take a deep breath and feel the crispness of the Colorado air that Levi Zendt describes, not wrinkle my nose at the “odor of the day” on the subway. To say that I am happy that we made the decision to move here is an understatement.
I think that there is a balance to be found between being nomadic and staying in one place. Every place I’ve lived has felt like it was home at some point. I haven’t drifted for the sake of drifting. I remember the highway and freeway exits off which each of the places I’ve lived has been, the grocery stores where I bought my cereal and milk and the view out of every window of each apartment I’ve lived in. Something about each of them was home to me and will continue to be home to me whenever I visit them or think about them.
I felt that I left each place “on good terms,” even New York, which sometimes felt like it was sucking me into the train car in the morning and spitting me back out onto the platform at night. There were the restaurants that we frequented, Las Olas on the 101 in Cardiff where we would order take out and then bring it across the street to the beach, and La Mela in Little Italy in Manhattan, where I first met my boyfriend’s friends from college and where we always knew we could go to get a whole liter of good red wine and rich, delicious stuffed mushrooms, gnocchi, and slabs of fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, basil, and vinaigrette. My mom and I had “our place” in New York at the Marriott at Times Square where we could sip Cosmopolitans eight stories up from the madness of the streets below and plan for which subway we would need to take to get to wherever we were trying to go next. Most importantly, the people in and around each place I’ve lived will always be home to me, and that won’t change no matter what city I’m living in.
Instead of moving for the sake of moving, I like to think I’ve moved for the sake of trying to find the right place for me and, when I do find it, I will know with all the more conviction because of the other places I’ve been and experienced. Perhaps Boulder is that place, and it certainly feels to be so far, and I hope this blog will highlight some of my experiences here and experiences elsewhere. Whether they are stories, articles, or short scribbles, I hope they will serve as a bit of creative truth and a bit of fun reflection for anyone who reads them, and for me.