Why I live here? That’s a good question. I ask myself that a lot, only it sounds more like “why the hell do I live here?” There are many answers to that question. Because I have to. Because I like to challenge my tolerance level. Because all my things were packed on to a truck and delivered here. Because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be a supportive wife.
The simple answer is a job. Setting aside most of our lifelong dreams, my husband and I moved here from Seattle for a once-in-a-lifetime job that he accepted. After living here less than a year, I find I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of like and dislike with this small town called Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We have both lived in Denver before (it’s about twenty-five miles away), about eight years ago. We didn’t like it, so we moved. Now, we’re back, after living in San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle. For a while, we thought we were stranded on a raft in a dead sea, devoid of any cultural outlets. However, despite all our kicking and screaming, we’re finding it just might be livable.
You see, this wasn’t exactly on our master list of places to live. Seattle. San Francisco. Chicago. Those were all on the list. But, it just so happens one of the best advertising agencies in the country is headquartered here in Boulder, and you go where the work is. So here we are. 5430 feet above sea level, with the beautiful flatiron rocks and mountains to our west, and flat farmland as far as the eye can see to our east. Surrounded by fleece, those annoying rubber gardening shoes, clogs, large sport utility vehicles and cowboys, it hasn’t been easy getting used to this town, which I like to call small, but not small-minded.
Everything there is to do in Boulder, that’s fun and exciting, can be accomplished in a day, two if you really stretch it out. There are three restaurants that a foodie like myself deems worthy; the rest are breweries and upscale fast food. I tried to get a glass of Rose wine this past summer at every restaurant in town, but no one served it. Why? Because a very small percentage of people here are interested in wine. There are barely any outlets for fashion, and my outfits, boring as I think they may be, are often stared at because they vary slightly from the norm seen ‘round these parts. Sometimes a good band comes to town, but mostly we have to go to Denver for that. Everything closes at 9 p.m., a phenomena we discovered one Saturday night looking for dinner. Everyone has dogs, and looks at us with pity like we’re barren when we tell them we don’t have one. I could go on and on about the things in Boulder that drive me crazy, but I won’t. Otherwise living here for the next few years would be brutal.
Luckily, after eight months under my belt, I’m beginning to see the positive points of Boulder. It’s extremely active, which has caused me to lose ten pounds almost involuntarily. I still spend a good amount of time couch surfing, watching re-runs of The Golden Girls, but after living here for a while, knowing that it’s a nice day and the whole town is outside riding bikes or running, it’s pretty hard to remain a bump on a couch. Colorado is a state that loves its meat, and Boulder, though very natural, organic and hippie-ish, is no exception. As a woman that loves her meat, I cannot complain. The burgers are better here, maybe because they’re all-natural, but whatever the reason, I love that people think it’s silly not to have a burger with at least bacon, if not bacon and pork chili smothered on top. It’s a meat, wrapped in meat, dipped in meat, on a bun made of meat paradise.
Aesthetically, it’s very beautiful here. Boulder has growth boundaries and laws set up that will never allow it to become sprawling or towering. The foothills and the mountains will never be obstructed by tall buildings. The smallness of this place is very quaint. The people are very nice. It’s incredibly sunny every day. I’ve surmised that there are far worse places I could be living than a liberal, organic bastion of outdoorsyness.
So, I try to hug Boulder once a day, and not get mad at it when it closes itself off to me at eight or nine o’clock, not allowing me to get anything done after work. Only once did I really blow up at it, after returning from a week-long trip to San Francisco and becoming insanely mad that there was way too much wealth and privilege for such a small town, no sign of a ghetto, and an insanely small percentage of Asian, African American, and Indian living among it’s boundaries. I’ve gotten used to the idea that this is a bubble that I live in, and people pay a lot to live here. And despite all this, it’s more of a realistic living situation than I’ve been in for a while.
It’s forcing me and my husband to search for outlets of culture, to not rest on our laurels and become victims of banality. We aren’t settling for Boulder. Instead, we’re trying to make the most of it. We’re seeing more movies than ever, because our thirst for something cultural has led us there. We’re cooking more, and exploring the unseen territories of our kitchen, because with very few options for a good dining experience, our dining room table looks better all the time. We’re planning more trips, for obvious reasons. We’re looking for volunteer opportunities. We’re riding our bikes a lot. We’re camping. We’re doing things that we left behind in our previous life because there were so many other diversions and exciting adventures to be had. Now, we’re back to basics. And, I think we’re becoming okay with it.
We won’t live here forever. But for the time being, we’re allowing ourselves to be landlocked. The charm and honesty of Boulder is contagious. And as for the question, “Why I live here,” well, maybe it’s to check in with reality. Or maybe, it’s to find ourselves again. Maybe it’s to become reacquainted with nature and simplicity. I suspect it might be because no matter how much you plan your life and map out the fantastic places you will live, life will most certainly take you to the place you least expect.