The flight into Denver is rocky. I am sitting beside an older gentleman. He seems resigned to fate and chuckles when I close my eyes and start confessing my sins.
Somehow I manage to hold onto my lunch as we finally touch down.
It is summer 2012, my first summer in the US and of course it had to be Denver.
It has been 4 years since then that I last saw Denver, since I last breathed in the mountain air of Colorado. 4 years too long.
See it was here, one hot sunny day as I watered the lawn and tried to get Ralph to stop rolling in wet grass that I realized I had fallen in love with America, and wanted nothing more than to live here the rest of my life.
When I think about Denver these days, I think about runny yummy ice cream on sunny summer days, green, green grass and a beautiful Maltese named Ralph lying on my tummy, telling me in doggie language that all good things will come. When I close my eyes and dream of Colorado, I dream of winding roads, homes built on hills, mountains that stay covered in snow even in June, springs and red rocks, a girl with pigtails singing the Stars and the Stripes in a Nigerian accent.
My dreams of Colorado are always in bright colors.
But there are dark secrets too, just like in every other place I have ever been. A couple of miles away from where I lived was Columbine High School. An hour and half train ride from home is the infamous Aurora movie theater. It is also the here that place I experience racism for the first and what is hopefully the last time.
I have never met a people more resilient than the people from the state of Colorado and soon it rubs off on me. Maybe it is all those mountains but we have learned to wear our battle scars proudly and bravely… It isn’t like the things we have been through are forgettable. We wouldn’t dare forget but we also dare to smile through the tears. We have learned that in the end, if we love some more, the hate and darkness will have no choice than to return to the place of darkness and leave Colorado’s light unblinking.
My birthday falls on a weekday and the amazing company I am interning in graciously gives me and the other interns tickets to a baseball game. It is my first baseball game. I will never like baseball; thanks to John Irving and his book Owen Meany. But heck it’s my birthday and I am surrounded by people who love me so I go. I don’t remember who won the game but every other birthday after that, I relive being sung happy birthday to by a stadium of strangers. These are some of the things that make America, America. Kindness, grace and willingness to be distracted from a beloved game to sing happy birthday to a stranger.
My last weekend in Colorado, I spend with a friend from Chile and her husband. We met here and she has taught me so much in those three months than she will ever know. Most importantly she has taught me to laugh in Spanish ‘jajaja’! The three of us take our time walking the Mile High. We talk a lot about the future but we are also silent a lot. I know it can’t be only because the mountain air steals our breaths.
The friends I made here are friends I know I will keep forever. I may never see them again. I may never hear Ralph bark again. But life is lived in the now. You take all you can get from the now. You must leave nothing for tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring with it its own joys.