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.