Thursday, November 06, 2014

The bright lights of Denver are shinin' like diamonds, like ten thousand jewels in the sky

Even thought we ended up here kind of by accident, as the result of a crashing economy and a desperate need to get out of Hawaii before we ended up homeless, I have come to love living in Denver beyond anything I could have anticipated.

I have lived in a lot of places in my life, and I have cherished many of them - India, Israel, Atlanta, Charlottesville.  In my mind, each is imbued with its memories of friends, romances, trips, heartbreaks, song fragments -- it is impossible for me to separate the place from the overall sense of what my life was when I was there.  I would love to go back to India, for example, but India to me is totally wrapped up with the experiences I had while I lived there - being a senior in high school and having the amazing friends that I did, the nights out at the Gunghroo, the trips to Rishikesh and Goa and Bhubaneswar, being an extra in a BBC miniseries with my friends in Allahabad, shopping on Jan Path and Saroji Nagar.  Going back now would feel so different.

But I think as a place unto itself - the combination of location and lifestyle and culture - Denver is my favorite place I've ever lived.  I love my neighborhood, right in the city.  I love how there is so much focus here on getting outside and playing in nature - hiking, biking, skiing, climbing, camping.  The mountains are so extraordinary.  They inspire action and achievement and greatness and happiness -the kind of happiness that comes from effort and exertion.  I love how friendly people tend to be.  I love that it's an amazing place to raise kids.

I've written about how the big hike I did the weekend before Emma died was sort of transformative, and awoke in me this intense desire to be outside and walk.  I've been walking as much as I can, to and from work (though with the end of daylight savings, I probably won't be walking home in the dark very much, though I might occasionally), during lunch, around the neighborhood with the kids, in the various state and federal parks that are an easy drive away.

I read an article recently about the benefits of walking, and the author talked about how walking is one of the most fundamental, essential, and defining activities of human existence.  It's good exercise,  it allows for clearer thinking and problem solving, it improves mood, it's a mode of transportation - when you are walking, you are experiencing life as a human being on so many levels.  That idea really struck me, and I'm realizing how true it is.

I firmly believe that it has been an essential part of my grieving process, both relating to Emma's death and to the end of my marriage.  Particularly during my morning walk to work, it's solitary time to think and reflect, which is so important.  But it's solitary time to think and reflect while I am also out in the world, seeing people, looking up at the sky, noticing beautiful buildings or interesting signs.  I get to be alone in the sense that I can put in my headphones and listen to music and not talk to people if I don't want to, but I'm still out in the world, experiencing it.  I get to process my grief while my muscles are working and my blood is pumping and the crisp air puts roses in my cheeks.  It gives me a sense that life goes on, and is worth living, and that the world is an amazing, beautiful place, and that there is still plenty of joy and love and adventure to be experienced.

When I walk to work, I walk west, toward the mountains.  I start out walking through urban neighborhoods, and then more commercial areas.  So my view is this incredible combination of city life and funky architecture and the hustle and bustle of a weekday morning and the dramatic view of the Rocky Mountains suddenly rising up from the flat of the plains.  Mt. Evans directly ahead, Longs Peak to the north, and on a clear day, Pike's Peak to the south.

Like many of the old intown mansions, this grand dame is getting some much needed TLC.  I liked the way the bare trees formed a veil in front of the house, as if modesty prevents her from showing herself until she feels she's presentable again.
We could use more "thoughtful management" in the world, don't you think?
I love the way the dome on the State Capitol Building looms up over the grit of upper Colfax Avenue.
That white snowy peak in the background is Mt. Evans (one of Colorado's 53 "fourteeners'), which I climbed last summer.
I started taking pictures, and have decided to post them dailywith the hashtags #walktowork and #dailydenver (follow me on Instagram or Facebook, plus I'll post them here).  I'm hoping that they will inspire people to get out and walk, think, look around, be in the world, and live.


  1. Anonymous8:58 AM

    What? Winston-Salem didn't make the list?!? ;-)

    1. Sadly, no, though I do have fond memories of living there. :)