When life gets confusing and nothing makes sense anymore, all you have left are words. Words to delve into the subconscious abyss, gradually winding down a hole filled with white light for minutes, hours, days, years— until something is revealed to the writer and finally she can rest. It’s a dizzying, long journey. Once she has reached the bottom of this white light-filled hole, she will realize that the answer is not at the bottom. She will look up and see that she has created something of what had been nothing. Something beautiful and intricate, packed with stories of adventure. And this will be the greatest epiphany of all. Furthermore, she’ll realize that she was never really alone. No– words were there all along, serving as the most comforting company anyone could have fathomed. They were there to answer questions that seemed unresolvable, predicting the future better than any fortune-teller could have. They were all the power and magic in the Universe, right at the tips of her ten fingers.
Everywhere I drove, I saw plates from Goshen County marked by the number 7. The number 7 always used to be my favorite number, my lucky number, before I began seeing number patterns repeatedly everywhere I looked fifteen years later. Seven became insignificant compared to the persistent 222s, 221s, 555s and other random number sequences—until a couple weeks ago when sevens kept flashing before my eyes no matter where I went. But it was the license plates that were leading me to dig deep into my roots, to search for something I didn’t know I had lost.
So here I find myself in a window seat of the newly opened bakery in a town out on the open prairie with a population of 5,000— Torrington, Wyoming. It’s a town with prominent aromas of cow manure and dried couchgrass. Almost nobody born here stays—but I imagine there are some that do. It’s a town of new beginnings, just like every other mildly progressive town in Wyoming. A new restaurant had sprouted at some point within the past fifteen years with my last name as a title. A western boutique with a few boho items stood within a tiny complex at the end of downtown. The furniture store was closing.
Driving eighty miles through such a scene the average person would consider “nothing to look at” was surprisingly a beautiful revelation for me. I drove down the dark road surrounded by an open area of buffalo grass below a subtle blue, cloudless sky. But if you scan see past that, looking with a deeper vision, you might see the Rocky Mountains glowing in a pink aura through the rearview mirror, and feel the wind rustling your hair as though you were among the horses on the sides of the road. You can see herds of free-range cows along the prairie drinking from a deep blue creek that is somehow still flowing in the middle of November.
And you thought you’d finished the straight path, you arise on top of the prairie and gasp in awe. Oh… so this is where I come from, I thought. The road was no longer black; it descended into hues of purple, nicely complimenting the hues of red sagebrush. Small rock formations sat piled in pyramidal stacks across the view, only to be noticed by those curious enough about this happy land. Really, it was a happy, lightweight feeling I was overcome with. No longer was my heart sinking into the same view I saw each day; instead, it was spread right out in front of me. There was the old faux chimney rock we called “Hitchhiker’s Thumb” with various roads open up to explore the top if I ever felt the urge to do so. There was Horse Creek, there was Hawk Springs. Places I’d forgotten existed. I’d forgotten where I came from…
Along the horizon, majestic purple plateaus were glowing magenta. Everywhere I looked along the roadsides, healthy bussels of astragalus were sprouting amongst couchgrass. I was breathtaken—breathing in the whole sky, the plains, the purple plateaus. I was now spiraling down this two-lane road, wondering what incentive everyone else travelling it had. Cars from Nebraska and others from upstate Wyoming were speeding towards me. What was triggering their travels? Was it the number 7? Was it any kind of number?
Finally, I came upon the Water Tower and the unnecessarily bold billboard exclaiming “WELCOME TO TORRINGTON, WYOMING”. My grin expanded outside my face and into my heart and crown chakras. I was home.
Today is Day 10 in my new downtown home, working back at my home store, in my hometown… and I can’t stop laughing. I didn’t realize what complete bliss I’d been missing out on those five months immersed in what I thought was my dream city. I didn’t realize how much laughter I would be lacking once I moved there. I could have never foreseen how much heavier I would feel in the skinniest state in the country, how much unhealthier I would become in the healthiest state, how much I would lose my mind in the state with the best state of mind, or how little sun I would absorb in the state with 360 days of sun. Forty miles away from all of that, I’ve rediscovered why I love life here. I am a fan of this place because nobody quite knows how to survive here unless you’ve decided to thrive here.
They’ll tell you there’s nothing to do, not realizing that simply looking at the sky is very much an active activity rare amongst urban populations throughout most of humanity. I’ve seen how buildings, stadiums, and trees block the sky view and the stars far too frequently elsewhere. They’ll tell you there’s no culture, not really taking heed of the vivid, real smiles being thrown generously about to mere strangers. Yes, culture exists here, in the smiles and laughter you’ll see wherever you go. It also exists in the silence of strolling the sunny streets, embracing the cool breeze blowing through your hair. It exists in the harmony of being acquainted with nearly everyone you might see on a daily basis, being able to exchange a friendly smile or even strike a conversation.
I can absorb the sun here because the city has absorbed me throughout the best parts of my life, shedding light upon my essence.
You’ll se the total eclipse of the sun when you’re where you should be all the time -“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
If there was a way to make you happy, I would.
I would sing by the Fire every evening and hope you’d be there listening.
I’d write out the reasons you deserve happiness
with a stick in the dried ditches of the Plains.
I’d sing Elton John songs persistently in the car
channeling your happiness of the past.
I could dress up in all the most brilliant costumes
making a fool of myself to the rest of the city.
(I already do.)
I’ll drive around town with my windows rolled down,
singing from the depth of my heart
sending fire into the air.
You know, beautiful people do not always have beautiful souls
but I believe yours may be the most beautiful blue soul in the land
And I see that those who deserve happiness shall have it.
In reality, We are not hopeless creatures–
there is always a way to create happiness for others in some way
with thoughts, rituals, writing, or public appearance
so that when those sad eyes fall upon You, bright light,
their hearts fill with a hopeful Fire
a desire to feel zest for life again.
And that future happiness may well be inspired by You, dear soul,
so go out and create smiles with your tone of voice,
with the energy you manifest each morning,
with the molecules you consume.
Feel with your whole soul,
feed and fulfill your body with Earth,
feel the Flame of intention
that will always save something.
One year ago I walked
barefoot through a cave
This year I walked
barefoot through a forest
I ate corn tortillas cooked on kal (limestone)
made by the strong
worn hands of native Mayan mothers
for forty days in a row–
Now my staples consist
of coffea arabica
and native Colorado flower tops.
Last year I drank Yucatecan limonada
Now I drink the flower essence
of Sedum lanceolata–
But I’ve done too much driving in this time
back and forth
for forty miles
Now I serve time (as well as Earth)
on my feet–
Feeling stronger after bouts
of vitamin, mineral, and essential amino acid
an unbalanced place of residency
Lost my mind–
I’ve come to settle in a place of peace
where light pours through seven long windows
and I stand on green carpets like grass
Slanting walls like tree bark–
A home almost as old
as my old soul.
Home is home; home is everywhere here.
Here, we can drink tea all the time
I feel how much warmer my hands have grown
I feel love radiate from every cell in my body
as I hold each cup and say each name
We’re so happy you’re back
Everything has changed
yet time stood still for four months
I run through the rain.
I’ve finally made it to my dream city after years of unhopeful wishing. I’d always pictured myself in my twenties biking the streets of Oldtown on a yellow cruiser and savoring the fresh tastes and smells its streets had to offer. I imagined attending CSU and meeting fun college friends, staying up late at night, being a singer in a band. It truly was a dream destination; the sun was always shining and my soul felt exhilarated whenever I visited. As a young spirit, I couldn’t think of anyplace else I’d rather be.
I would have never believed I could do it at such a young age—although I feel decades older than my real age. No one else who knows me would have believed I could do it either, especially since it isn’t for the purpose of attending the University. I didn’t move to Colorado for the privilege of getting high on marijuana, either, believe it or not. My move was, however, based on educational purposes as well as the use of herbs: I am attending the first year of Equinox School of Herbal Studies to become a certified herbalist. There happens to be more than one type of herb, and I am fascinated by all the wonders medicinal plants can provide for us. The third reason why I moved to FoCo is because I was able to transfer my job at Starbucks at exactly this time (after six months of being a partner).
I haven’t yet begun the herbal program and I’ve only lived here for four days. So far, the reality of living in Fort Collins is much different than the images I had floating around in my mind. So far, I can only express how Fort Collins has been an endless stream of noisy cars backing up traffic and an endless stream of whiny customers waiting to get their coffee. My new Starbucks store doesn’t own a Clover machine OR reserve coffee, so the coffee options are much less exotic for my personal tastes. But I suppose the city itself contains enough exoticness to go around and make up for the lack of Starbucks Reserve stores.
With all the obstacles of moving into my first apartment and feeling on edge with my first roommate, I haven’t had much time to delve into the spicy flavors of Fort Collins just yet… well, except for last night’s dinner at Star of India, my favorite Indian restaurant in town that I happen to be within walking distance of. I’ve discovered that it takes much time and persistence in living someplace to be exposed to all its magic, but since I’m on the lookout for those mystical aspects, I’ve been able to spot a few.
Within these four days, I have driven to work just early enough to catch the glowing orange sunrise peeking through purple clouds. Once on my way to the garage at 6:20am, I met my adorable elderly neighbor who’d gone out the get the newspaper while it seemed to me no one would be moving at a time before there was any light in the sky. I was feeling hesitant about singing in my car although it is an almost uncontrollable passion when I pulled up into the parking lot of Trader Joe’s and began rolling up the window as a gray-haired woman with her windows also rolled down blasted opera music loudly and sang along shamelessly. She even turned towards me to make sure I was listening, and she didn’t turn off her car until the song was finished.
I still encounter people I recognize from Cheyenne, just not as consistently. I’m beginning to experience inspiring moments from strangers, whereas before, I thought that constantly seeing everyone I knew was the most magical thing. The customers have called me by my name more often within my two days of work here than they ever did in Cheyenne, which is kind of magical. It makes me feel welcome to something new, rather than being to one to welcome new people to my hometown like I used to.
Today, a woman came in and asked me for a cup of ice without first going to the register. She wore an expression of pain on her face and told me she’d just had a tooth extracted. She smiled kindly and said with a serious look in her eyes, “You’re my guardian angel today.” Shortly afterward, I did see someone I knew from Cheyenne! Two Starbucks regulars, in fact. They were just as happy to see me as I was to see them.
I’ve always managed to find remnants of home everyplace I go. It’s bittersweet leave everyone and everything I used to see everyday for a temporary amount of time, but I’m confident that I will become just as much of a socialite here as I was in Cheyenne. A bigger city paves the way to bigger opportunities, after all. As long as I’m able to survive the traffic, anything is possible.
“I don’t understand what it is,” I kept complaining (though I’m sure I sounded grateful) to everyone who would at least not think I’m completely crazy. “I don’t understand why these ‘coincidences’ occur all the time. Anything that I say– or even think about subconsciously for two seconds– happens.” And then I would elaborate, and receive the general response:
“Wow, that is strange. You should start thinking about me winning the lottery.”
It was rare to receive a genuine answer, and I desperately wanted one. Of course, I’m a master at creating my own hypotheses, regardless of whether or not they are logical. So, naturally, I formed a partially logical conclusion: it was karma. It was because of those inspirational anonymous acts of kindness the short-lived “change the world” movement I was a part of last summer worked so hard to achieve. Our acts were so random that the universe had to really think hard to compete with us, but as far as I knew I was the only one receiving such constant synchronistic signs. Or was that just because I was more aware and accepting of these mysteries? I had also come to the conclusion that these occurrences weren’t simply mysterious coincidences; they were miracles.
Still, I refused to acknowledge my own underlying beliefs about the origins of miracles because my beliefs had been challenged in more ways than I could accommodate for in the past few years.
It wasn’t until my former best friend called me in college (which was also a spontaneous miracle because I had been wishing I could call her just seconds before) that I received an answer. A real, confident, non-sarcastic answer that I would have never pictured her saying– or even thinking– in person, and especially not over the phone. Yet her voice was assuring, not in the least way awkward, and not in the least way like her to say. Her life didn’t reflect those words. Her mother would certainly never believe she told me this. I wouldn’t have ever believed she would tell me this after I rambled on about all these strangely inconceivable miraculous happenings, but she did:
“You know, God works in mysterious ways and I think he’s on your side forever.”
I was speechless. Yes, I wanted to say, You are completely right. At this moment, my perspective of my own friend I felt I knew as a sister flipped a one-eighty. She was so much wiser than me, although she had always labeled me as the “wise” sister. I wanted to tell her this, and ask her where this profound confident knowledge was coming from.
“He’s not on my side, though. All the things I’ve accomplished I’ve had to do all on my own. I’ve never had any help from him or anyone else,” she continued. “You’re lucky.”
Did this luck last forever? Or do I have to be seeking it? Seeking Him?
I couldn’t see her eyes when she told me this, but now I imagine they would look similar to those of the girl I received my second real answer from. We were lounging in cushioned chairs, consuming forkfuls of carrot cake as I rambled off my multiple stories to her while our mutual best friend gazed into her cell phone and temporarily became lost in a different dimension (after telling us a strange occurrence of her own which I will write about later).
The track star, the rebel, the girl whose heart continues to be shattered day after day, did not even mention the word “weird” in her response. She glanced off to the side, her gaze fixed on something invisible, and she was smiling– almost smirking. She turned back to me and said, simply,
“You’ve been touched by an angel. That’s what it is.”
“Maybe,” I said and immediately regretted it. She, too, was also wise beyond what her life reflects. I shouldn’t have even questioned her knowledge.
She shrugged. “That’s what it is. I wish these things would happen to me like they do to you two.”
That night, I pondered if it was really that simple for an angel to reach down from heaven and brush my shoulder. Then I suddenly remembered a time when someone, a stranger to me, hugged me and said, “You have just been hugged by an angel.” I was filled with more skepticism than ever at the time, but now I wonder if it’s true. Or perhaps I have been touched by multiple angels, which I wouldn’t doubt.
Perhaps I will never know why they happen, but I have learned throughout the past few years one sure thing: there really are no coincidences.