This life.

He picked me up at the bar I used to work at in Boulder. I sat in his gold Honda and as the heat blasted from the vents, I sighed. It was cold outside — the kind of cold that stings your legs.

“So, how was Boulder?” He asked.

We were two miles down Highway 36 before I responded.

“Weird,” I replied. “There’s no other word to explain it.”

But, of course, I tried to explain. Resorting to telling him that instead, I’d try to write about it.

So, here I am. Trying to write about how my latest trip to Colorado, my visiting family and friends, my spending a mere three hours in Boulder where I lived for four years, was weird.

It’s not that my mom sold our childhood house and is now living in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s not that my childhood dog passed away and has been “replaced” by two adorably sweet black lab mixes. It’s not that my room at my dad’s house isn’t my room anymore, or that my brother’s is empty. It’s not even that my younger brother is now a Sophomore at my alma mater and lives in an apartment with two roommates and is finally into…girls.

It’s none of those.

It’s that Colorado is no longer home. But, it’s not even just that anymore. I think I’ve accepted the fact that my new home and my new life are both in San Francisco. It’s that when I go back to Colorado, I’m a visitor.

Being in Denver, seeing my family and visiting Boulder gave me insight into what my life could have been had I stayed. I could still be living in my two bedroom condo with a roommate and my cat. I could still be working at the bar, looking for another job. I could have taken the job offers that landed me in downtown Denver. Or the ones that kept my in Boulder. I could still be dancing the night away at ‘Round Midnight and eating a gyro from the Gyro Cart on Pearl St. at two in the morning. I could still be dating the same guy who is still working at the same place, doing the same things, getting in the same trouble. I could still go visit my girlfriend that’s still in Boulder at the same apartment she lived in with her sister in college. I could truly watch my best friend’s daughter grow up in person rather than through Facebook photos. I could be there, helping my dad with his new company without the geographic and timezone limitations. I could’ve been in Colorado to help my grandmother move out of her house (my mom’s childhood house) and into an apartment. I could be there. Still living my old life.

But I’m not.

I should be happy and excited that life hasn’t changed in Colorado. That I can go there and be immersed in life exactly as it was. It should be comforting, right? I’m philosophically nostalgic.

This trip back to Colorado was the longest period of time I’ve been back. It was on day four that I realized how easy it would be to regress into my Colorado lifestyle. How easy it would be to just go back. It’s like a crystal ball, giving me a perspective of what my life could have been, had I stayed.

Part of me is happy I can go back to my other life at any moment and be reminded of what it was like. What it was like to be geographically close to family; there for my best friend. But other times, it reminds me of what I left. Who I left behind and why I chose to move my life to San Francisco.

Colorado hasn’t changed, but I have.

Just like a pair of pants, I grew out of Colorado. And I don’t think I truly realized exactly how much until I went back, gathered insight, to what my life was like before.  I wasn’t aware of these changes because they are all a part of the new life I’ve created.

I’ve created this life in San Francisco. Starting from scratch, I was able to be whoever I wanted to be. No one knew me. And while you can’t re-write your past, you can control who you are as a result of it. I didn’t realize it, but I chose to be a different version of myself. I chose to eliminate the bad habits I had picked up in college — dating boys who needed fixing, compromising what I deserve to please others, being afraid to be alone because I wasn’t truly happy with myself, by myself.

San Francisco, and the “new me,” has reorganized my priorities. I put myself first — my career, my blog, my apartment, my confidence, my writing, my photography. I harness my enthusiasm and energy into people, situations, opportunities, with less negligence and more intention. I have taken on hobbies that make me happy. I do what I want to do, not what others believe I should. I am completely self-sufficient — living alone, independent and sincerely loving it. I am happy to just be with myself, with more confidence than ever before. I no longer let individual situations depict my overall mood or outlook. I am confident in my decisions, my choices, my experiences. I have a better idea of who I am, and every single day, I work toward becoming who I want to be.

I’m not sure if these changes would have occurred had I not moved to San Francisco. Partly because I don’t think I was actively aware I needed changing, and partly because many of these changes were thrust upon me and I made the right decisions. I’m sure that, had I stayed in Colorado, I’d be just fine. Eventually.

But I like this life better.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Demartini November 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Great post! I know how you feel. My parents moved, and since I haven’t lived at home in four years, the Tampa area isn’t “home” anymore. Strangely enough, neither is Gainesville, where I currently live. I’m in a unique transitional phase, and am looking forward to knowing which city I can make my home.

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Lauren December 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for the comment! Discovering your true “home” is definitely an adventure. I wish you the best of luck!

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Jamie November 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm

“No one knew me. And while you can’t re-write your past, you can control who you are as a result of it.”

Really love that line. And this post.

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Lauren December 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Thanks, Jamie. The past always has a way of creeping into the present, but it’s all about how we learn from it and act now!

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David November 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm

There’s lots of “you go girl with your bad self” attitude in this post. And I like it! ;)

You know that old song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”? Well it sounds like in your case that you found your heart in San Francisco. It’s my second favorite city, just behind NY of course. Although I’m sure Boulder is lovely in it’s own right. It’s just not right for you anymore. And that’s ok.

Now go high-five a sea lion for me.

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Lauren December 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Ha! Thanks :)

You’re absolutely right. I think I found my heart in San Francisco, and I’m so thankful I have, even if it makes going back to Colorado difficult at times.

Consider the sea lion high-fived.

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suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] November 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Even growing up here in San Francisco, life is so different from when I lived here before college. It’s the same backdrop but with new characters and a new story. :)

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Lauren December 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Isn’t that the beauty of it? Even when the environment is the same, the stories can be different. Amazing.

Thanks for sharing Tinna :)

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Alicia Jabbar December 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I am seriously obsessed with this post. I went to CU for undergrad and moved to San Francisco right after college in 2005. My husbands family lives in Colorado and we have come back into Boulder for dinners or drinks and its been glamorous. I just moved back to Boulder and resonate with the idea that nothing has changed but I have. The lifestyle is easy but I miss the city and the people in the Bay Area every day.

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Lauren December 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for the comment, Alicia! I’m glad you can relate.. Sounds like we had much the same experience moving from Boulder to San Francisco (but I’m not quite ready to go back yet…) :)

Too bad you’re not out here anymore!

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Ryan Knapp December 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Just like a pair of pants, I grew out of Colorado. And I don’t think I truly realized exactly how much until I went back, gathered insight, to what my life was like before.

And that is just it, you never realize how life changes until you get a glimpse to relive the past and it tells you how far you’ve came in the present and where you will go in the future.

so glad to be visting San Fran in June..

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Lauren December 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Thanks, Ryan. I can’t wait for you to visit!!

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Doniree December 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm

I wonder when I’m going to feel like I out-grew Minneapolis. If I will. I love this post – and I love your honest reflection. And I love that I got an hour of your three in Boulder :)

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Lauren December 5, 2010 at 11:45 pm

When/if you do, I’m here and can (obviously) relate. I love that you got an hour of my three in Boulder, too. It was a fantastic hour :)

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