Sunday, May 13, 2012
Following the Fireflies
I moved to Colorado in January of 2000. Originally from the farm lands of Maryland, my ex-husband and I relocated to Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1994. In 1995, I was laid off from the private investigating job that had taken us to Virginia in the first place. Given we had just purchased our dream home, and my surviver personality, I started a cleaning service and continued my life in Southern Virginia. Ryan was born in December 1995, in Virginia Beach.
They say that everything happens for a reason. In 1997, I met the most wonderful lady, that would not only work for me, but be the one to share her fascinating life of travel with me. Ultimately, Donna changed the course of my life.
I was amazed by her carefree attitude of relocating. In combination with my health difficulties from high mold levels, Buck and I decided it was time to move on and grab a piece of this adventure ourselves.
Figuring out where to move would be rather easy. The internet flourished with programs to darn near any question, including relocation guides. All I had to do was answer their questions to our preferences. We knew that we did not want to live on the west coast because of earthquakes. Arizona and Nevada were too hot. Utah we felt, was too conservative. The north seemed way too cold and snowy, and the south too hot and humid. The mid-central U.S. was tornado alley. That didn’t leave a lot, but Denver did return a high match based on our answers.
After a significant amount of research on Denver, Buck and I liked what was advertised. It was 1999, the economy was booming and there were more buyers than houses available. We immediately began preparations to relocate to Denver.
We never really hated Virginia Beach. Maybe we felt that we hadn’t really connected with the area as most people were military and temporarily living there. Maybe it was the extreme humidity that made me feel so uncomfortable. I know my being sick with sinus infections every six weeks became old and undesirable. For whatever reason, we just had not bonded the way we expected.
We loved the continuous activities that the area offered. Every weekend there were concerts at the beach and on the waterfront of Norfolk. Ryan’s first concert was Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The area had many annual festivals such as the Strawberry Festival, Kite Festival and the Air Show at Oceana Naval Station. Places such as Busch Gardens and Jamestown provided us a significant amount of parks and history. We really could not have asked for more in the area of entertainment. We took advantage of most of these events.
Buck and I owned a beautiful victorian home just miles from the ocean and the cost of living was incredibly affordable.
So why would we make such a life altering decision? Maybe I wanted some of the excitement that Donna always spoke so fondly of. Maybe we just wanted a change of pace. Maybe we had no real good reason at all. We had no friends or family in Denver. Either way, in January of 2000, Ryan and I loaded our Mazda 626 and headed west.
Ryan was recovering from a broken collarbone. So I set up an area behind me with a portable kid sized sofa and vcr t.v.. Ryan and I drove ten hours a day for four days straight. I listened to Back To The Future for four days straight. When I crossed the Colorado state line, I could feel the butterflies doing cartwheels in my stomach.
I kept thinking that I would see the mountains with the cresting of each hill. Finally, just after passing the airport, there they were! Purple mountains majesty... snow peaked, majestic mountains. This was it! This is where our new home was.
Our new house was not finished construction yet. This was why Buck had stayed behind, and Ryan and I moved into a condo in Denver, near Jewish Hospital. Denver had to be the cleanest city I had ever seen. Wow, what an amazing place to raise our family. This was going to be the greatest place I had ever lived.
Buck arrived in February and the first nine months we were here were filled with zoo trips, Denver museums, hot air ballon festivals in Steamboat Springs, trips to the Royal Gorge, and white water rafting down the Arkansas River. The beauty was over whelming at times.
By October, I discovered I had high altitude illness with every trip to the mountains. This put a real damper on things. How would we take any mountain trips if I was going to get sick every time we went over 7000 feet? The answer to that was easy... I wouldn’t go. That really put a crimp in our extra-curricular activities. Is there a lifetime of activities in Denver?
This was not the only issue that was rearing its ugly head. Buck and I weren’t doing so well. We had been unofficially divorced for the previous three years, but the distance from our family and friends was the final straw that forced us to make an official decision. either way, we vowed to make it until the following year. In January of 2001, Buck moved out and I began a new phase of my life.
I was living the single mom’s life and going to school. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Still running my cleaning service, things were tight, but we were managing. In May of 2001, Tom (my husband) and I began dating.
The last three years of my marriage, I had resolved in my mind, if I ever were to become involved with anyone ever again, I knew who that person needed to be. I desired someone funny, caring, respectful, intelligent, goal oriented and expressive. When Tom and I met and began dating, I was shocked to see he was very much the person I had created in my head.
Tom and I hit it off immediately and we were together constantly. Because I had Ryan, and he was the number one man in my life, I was very cautious. Tom has said that he felt those first six months we dated were more like a job interview. Now that he has Toryn, he understands why. We look back on those months and laugh at my interrogations.
In 2001, I left my cleaning service due to a serious back injury. In September 2001, we all woke up to a nightmare that would change our lives forever. 9/11 had occurred and our jobs were no longer stable or secure. The economy took a plunge. The house that I was living in went from $137,000.00 in value to $87,000.00. No one wanted to spend any money. I was unable to refinance my home because of two lawsuits involving the homes. After five years of staying afloat, I lost the battle and filed bankruptcy. My Denver home would be foreclosed on it the process.
While all of this was going on, memories of abuse I had suffered as a young child, began to surface. These memories had been locked in my subconscious for thirty-four years. These memories would be the breaking point leading me to go off the deep end, so to speak. Panic attacks became everyday occurrences. The birth of my second son resulted in very serious Postpartum Depression. Just when I thought things could not get any worse, I developed large cysts on my ovaries that required surgery. Ultimately leading to a hysterectomy.
So, why am I telling you this and what is the point of this blog. I have decided to see if I could answer the question of whether or not we could be happy wherever we live. I believe that not only do we connect with an area that supports our hobbies; But we also relate life experiences with people, places and things. For the record. I would not change my course or path. Nor do I regret the “dark times” I went through. Why? Well, I would not have two more wonderful men in my life if I had. Tom and Toryn joined Ryan as my number one priority... my family. I love them all more than words could ever say. I also do not regret the difficult times as I believe they have made me a much better person in so many ways. First, I proved that I really am a surviver. I learned how to deal with life in a more productive fashion. I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought; Wiser than I even imagined; and more wonderful than I ever gave myself credit for.
However, I believe that our time here in Denver is up. Losing my savings and credit can be fixed. Losing my childhood support group (family and friends) is something that can only be fixed by returning home.
I have gained so many wonderful things here in Denver. I have an amazing understanding of myself and others. I have learned that certain people are poisonous and need to be removed from my life for good. I have gained truly incredible friends. Jannel, Cherri, Adrian, Kimber, Pam, Austin, and Brendan to name a few. I have gained life experience that I needed as I became older. These experiences I will cherish and never forget.
More than anything, I have learned that home is where the heart is. In my case, and Ryan’s case, Virginia. Ryan spent the first four years of his life in Virginia and he fell in love with it all over again last summer when we spent four weeks there. Ryan is a water bug who needs the beach. He dreams of being there everyday. Toryn loves the DelMarVa area as well. He loved Busch Gardens, the ocean, shell collecting, and farm life. He asks nearly everyday, when we will be moving back there. Tom fell in love with Tampa when he was stationed there. He only came back to Colorado because his fear of finding a job and house there were intimidating to him at the time. He loves the ocean scene, sailboats, fishing on the ocean, long hot humid summers and short mild winters.
I’m not sure which of us is more excited. We all have our personal reasons for wanting to move there. But the one thing we all share is the countdown to moving day.
I have yet to answer my question of can you be happy living anywhere. I guess I would say that you must first define happiness. I believe that we could all be content staying in Denver. But content is settling and compromising. We do not need to compromise as we all agree that the southeast is where we want to be. Tom could deal with the long cold Colorado winters, but why should he? He loves the idea of living somewhere warm and somewhere there is atmosphere. If what he wants to do, isn’t within half an hour, it can be found conveniently nearby.
Ryan and I personally could stay if we were okay with content. But we aren’t either. We want to hop in our boat and go crabbing. We want to go to real amusement parks such as Busch Gardens. We love the fireflies, the Cherry Blossoms, Azaleas, and the palette of colors God drops on the trees every fall. Ryan and I want to live in a state where we can talk football without the worry of, as Tom put it, the obnoxious Bronco’s fans. The DelMarVa area is much more accepting of fans from all regions.
Some say we should be happy here because this is where God planted us. Actually, God only planted Tom and Toryn here. God guided me here to become who I am and finding my missing family. But just because Tom and Toryn were born here, does not mean they need to settle. They have chosen to try a new life on the east coast because they love what is available. As Tom explained it to me: “When I lived in Tampa, I used to love to get in my car and just drive. I’d drive along the beach or whatever. In Colorado, I don’t feel like there is anywhere I ever have the feeling of just enjoying a ride”.
Ultimately, I guess I would have to define what happiness is for me. For me, happiness is taking my family out for the day to enjoy each other and our hobbies. To go to those festivals or Busch Gardens. It is getting into our car and visiting the country where I grew up. Taking them to the fair to see the bunnies, sheep, or cows. Happiness is sitting under the stars and watching meteors, or the Milky Way. Happiness is sitting on the beach watching the boys play in the water, skim-boarding, and collecting their shells. It’s the feeling of the hot sun on my skin and listening to the laughter of kids. Happiness is the taste of salt in the air and the custard with chocolate jimmies, that you can only seem to get on the Boardwalk. Happiness is the Boardwalk and the interesting people that walk it. From the lobster red John Candy types in Summer Rental, to the 38-26-34 blondes in their two piece suits that we all hate because we are filled with envy, but still love to see. Happiness is spending days on end with my sister and friends, who have been waiting a decade for me to come home.
More than anything else, happiness isn’t unhappy or content. It’s being home. And home, after all, is where we want to be!