Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. About a week ago, I posted on my Facebook that, if I called July 15 The Big Day, I was suddenly about 140 days away from packing up and leaving my beautiful green Virginia for a new home in Colorado. And gradually, the people who follow my online life the most began to perk up and take notice. They began to accost me in the halls at work, and after church, and in Facebook messages. “Are you really moving to Colorado?” “Is it definite??”
Yes, I’m really moving to Colorado this summer.
And the “Is it definite?” question kinda freaks me out. Because, yes, in my heart, it’s definite. I’ve wanted to move there for over a year now. I can’t explain why Colorado…it’s just something I feel. It’s somewhere I feel certain I’m meant to go. I don’t know a soul there…I don’t have a job…I’ve never even been there except to pass through. And I’m terrified that some bizarre series of life circumstances will conspire to keep me HERE, when I know in my heart I need to leave…and so I cringe when I say, “Yes, it’s definite.” I’m afraid of being That Girl, the one who always says she’s going to do some big crazy thing…and then never does. (Although my Camino and my marathon speak for me, there, somewhat….)
So…yes. I’m going. Believe it. I’m determined.
I’ve been meaning to start blogging about it for a few weeks now, ever since I set the wheels in motion. I want to chronicle the steps I take, because, like my Camino blog and my marathon blog, I want to provide a blow-by-blow chronology of this undertaking for a “me” out there, somewhere…a single girl taking a huge leap in her life and feeling like she’s suddenly become that scariest-of-all-things: a Grown-Up.
I started thinking seriously about making this happen on the first of the year. I was at my friend Michelle’s house for what’s become an annual Vision Board Day…where we create scrapbook-style posters envisioning what we want for ourselves that year. The decision that day was Big Leap or Small Leap? Move way out West to Colorado and leave behind everything I’ve known in my adult life, or move to the neighboring county, Loudoun…far away enough to have to create a whole new circle of friends, get a job in a new school system, buy a home…but still be able to reach my closest friends and my brother’s family in an hour or less.
Michelle, who had taken a similar leap years ago and moved here to Virginia from Massachusetts, told me that one way to decide was to spend a solid week thinking as though the move to Colorado was definite. And then spend the next solid week thinking as though the move to Loudoun was definite. And then, see how I felt at the end of the process…whether one felt like more of a letdown than the other.
I never made it off the Colorado week.
So I started researching areas. Boulder was the town that had been in my head ever since fall of 2010. My folks retired last spring, and I helped them drive out to their new home in Reno, Nevada…and they kindly planned a route that would have us overnighting in Boulder on our third day. We walked from the motel through the downtown district for dinner – quaint, beautiful – and woke up the next morning to cruise through the town and the campus of Colorado University, and from there, up into the Flatiron Mountains a bit till we hit an overlook that gave us a view all the way to Denver and beyond. We stopped at a mountain-lodge-looking Starbucks and an REI, and basically got the feel for the area (as much as one could in a 16-hour overnight). I liked it.
So I started checking out forums and finding out what I could online. I found a lot of people who claimed that Boulder was relatively expensive for the area, and more than a bit yuppie-ish. They said that the little towns to the north along I-25 were much more reasonably priced and down-to-earth, and still allowed for easy access to the cultural draws of Boulder.
Then, my friend Trinity, who had spent some time out in Fort Collins last summer, told me that she and her husband LOVED that area. She said Walt Disney had modeled his Main Street at DisneyWorld off Ft. Collins’s Main Street. That it was artsy and eclectic and cultural and beautiful and just a very well-laid-out town.
Just south of Fort Collins, I found a place called Loveland. Friends of mine had lived there some 27 years ago, and had good things to say about it. And I liked the name. After all, if you can’t find love in Loveland…well…you just must not be meant to have it.
So I moved the bullseye north to the Loveland/Fort Collins area and moved on to the school district map.
In the month since, I’ve finished two online applications: one for Poudre District (is it really pronounced “Pooder,” as my former-Loveland friends claim?) and Thompson Valley. I have Weld/Greely and St. Vrain still in the hopper.
On Leap Day last week, as soon as my paycheck and my tax refund came in, I took a major leap and booked a flight, hotel, and car for April 1-5 out to Colorado. The whole reservation topped out at just over $1000…my entire tax refund and then some. And suddenly, this whole thing became Real. I mean, I’d sunk actual money into the dream. A LOT of money. That’s a pretty expensive 4 or 5 days if it doesn’t come to fruition…which is pretty big incentive to really work to follow through on it. Around that time, I learned that a friend from high school lives in the Loveland area and I’m hoping to meet up with her for coffee while I’m there. I also learned from my aunt that we have a relative outside Boulder. I’ve never met her or her particular branch of my father’s very large extended family, but we’ve connected now on Facebook, and she seems lovely. I hope to meet her, too…maybe not in April, but certainly as I get settled in.
This past Sunday, I spent about three hours in the quiet room of the library (a GREAT place for focused quiet work) and emailed about six principals my cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile just to introduce myself. I mentioned the window of time when I’d be in town and expressed my hope (my fervent, almost desperate hope!) that they might be interested in interviewing me while I’m there. Two responded, saying they’d contact me if any positions opened up. Thrilled for the contact…but a bit deflated at its generic and noncommittal tone, even though it makes perfect sense.
This morning, I spent a good deal of time filling out transcript request forms for JMU and UMW…sending them off to the counties I’ve chosen. In some cases, I couldn’t put a person’s name on the envelope, so I’m a bit nervous that some HR secretary is going to toss my transcripts because she doesn’t realize why they’re coming from a complete unknown some dozen states away.
I also have to look into Colorado licensure. And, in looking into it, I find that I can’t even start the application process till I get fingerprinted out there. So, as of now, that’s the only definite professional chore I have on my agenda for next month’s trip.
It’s daunting. Other than our four years in Okinawa, from 1991-1995, and while I was away at JMU several months a year from 1995-1999, I’ve lived on these two blocks since I was ten years old. Montclair is the realest home I have ever had. I’ve never lived anywhere else longer than a few years. I’ve been in this townhouse for TEN years. A decade. When I moved in, I was dating the last man I was serious about. That was nine years ago. It’s staggering to think of leaving here. It’s staggering to think of prying myself out of this house I’ve dug into for ten years. It’s terrifying to think of how lonely it’ll be out there for a while, as I try to make friends, and as I miss the people I really love and depend on here in Virginia. It’s even more terrifying to think that I might not be able to get a job that allows me to live as comfortably as I do here. If I don’t get a salaried position somewhere, doing SOMEthing (hopefully teaching), things will be rough for a while. It’s all very, very scary.
“How do you eat an elephant?” a friend asked me. “One bite at a time.” I’m eating an elephant. And I’m trying to find places to start nibbling away. And it’s a huge task.
But, to answer your question…
Yes, I’m moving to Colorado.
And yes, it’s definite.