wax & wane
Growing up in Colorado, I often heard people telling someone or other: “Wait five minutes. It’ll change.” That statement was usually about the weather.
But, really, it could have been about our entire state–our city–its people–about our lives. At least, it seems to be a huge part of my life–my experience. Nothing stays the same. People come and go. Life has its ups and downs. The good, the bad, the ugly? It all disappears like that. Blink and it’s not there anymore…for better or for worse. If you hold on, you’ll find yourself covered in body-length scrapes.
I’ve got to admit–I’ve taken a lot of comfort in that over the years–and I’ve also sported some wicked wounds because I’m the Queen of holding out and holding on.
There’s a part of me that loves to keep moving. That gets energized by all the things I can do–all the people I can meet–all the Almas I can be. It’s why I often enjoy my job. There’s never really a dull moment. Every day is different, and the people that are important today may not even be people I’ll remember in five months. They just become part of the blur that it is this life.
I can say that about my personal life, too. If you look at the important people that have inhabited my life, you’ll maybe be able to count one or two–maybe three–that I still even talk to once a month. People die. People move. People grow apart. It’s life. Like the weather. You batten down your hatches and enjoy every moment of whatever comes your way. You start over moment by moment and embrace what is. Or try to, anyway. And while you might remember that flood from 2014, it becomes a vague memory eventually.
There’s another part of me that never wants anything to change. I want Pluto to be a planet. I get outraged over single spaces after periods. And that nonsense regarding commas. And I regularly listen to music from my childhood. I eat food that reminds me of being six. And I will positively gush if I see a movie with Patrick Swayze. I love reminiscing. I love bumping into old friends on LinkedIn and Facebook. I love wearing perfume that reminds me of being 16. I just do. Few things make me happier–even when the good old days weren’t so fantastic. There is always something to be sappy about.
As a Colorado girl, I’m well-versed in change. I’m all about progress. I’m a dreamer. I’m competitive. I want to be the best, and I am so very proud of where I’m from. But I’m also very attached to things that don’t always fit in with progress or dreams. I value authenticity and get joy from things that are easily missed.
So, there’s this push-pull inside me. And I think it comes from living here. There’s this need to be different and to find something new, counterbalanced by this need to be real and honest.
I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. Mostly because I’m surrounded by it. I’ve made huge choices this year. Relationships I’ve had for a while have suffered. My life feels off-kilter and odd. I don’t know where I’ll be in a few months. Other relationships I swore I would never engage again are now prominent. And this city feels alien to me as gentrification uproots everything I’ve loved.
It’s made me evaluate things–discover what I want to keep and what is better off fading into the rearview.
Recently, I went back home. To my real home: Westwood. I had originally planned on a roadtrip this weekend, but plans got stymied, so I decided to just do a quick afternoon trip back to my old neighborhood. It was important to me, and I was annoyed I had so little time to do what I wanted to do.
I had an idea recently to start working on a film project–basically, a goodbye to Denver. I wanted to go back to all my important places and to tell the story of my life here. I knew that this trip to Westwood might be one of my last, so I took my camera and made my way to all my important places.
It started off well enough. Though the weather made it hard to capture the beauty of my favorite park. It was fine until I crossed Federal. And then I noticed the construction projects. The lofts and how certain places were gone completely. It wasn’t until I got to my childhood home and saw it replaced–ravaged–by this hideous green monster townhome–that it sunk in.
Until then, gentrification was just another “ain’t-it-awful” that happened to people who weren’t me. It was something to be angry about. But this? This was a knife in my heart. This was as devastating as my mother’s last breath. This was my entire life erased by puke green paint. In this place, no one knew my name. It was as if the 20+ years I spent here never happened. And I was relegated to being some strange white girl taking pictures and crying over paint.
I couldn’t even go to my father’s grave. I cut my drive short and came home an hour early–crying the entire drive back.
We use the word “soulmate” pretty free and loose here in America. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember reading something about soulmates being anyone that’s meant for your life…anyone that changes you. It doesn’t mean that your soulmate is your perfect whatever. It means your soulmate moves you to some other place.
Most people think of this idea as just pertaining to people. But I think it applies to places too.
Because, undoubtedly, Westwood was–is–mine. It will always be part of me, and I will always be part of it–even if they put 10 Starbucks on Feds. Even if no one knows I played with my dog in that alley off Knox. Even if no one remembers my mother smoking on our porch. Even when all the things that stayed with me disappear from this reality–as they seem to be doing now–in such a crazy, sad way.
I will always pine for the palleta man and the lilacs in May. I will always know that thump of bass. I will always smile when I see tissue paper flowers. And I will always hate the Raiders. For no reason at all.
On Sunday, it felt like all the things I loved about that place–all those things that are Westwood that I’m proud to carry–were disappearing to be replaced by frat boys in smart cars blasting Mumford and Sons. It felt like the only thing left was the violence and the bigotry–and it was especially bracing when I heard that my friend’s cousin was murdered by cops five blocks from my old house just a few days before.
I realized I was crying over a part of me that I’ve been losing for quite a while now. I realized I was grieving my parents and that life I had. I realized I had more in common with those frat boys than that guy that was murdered. And I realized I was more like the people I always hated when I was 12.
As I shared my heartbreak over all of this, I realized again how relationships change. How people who used to prop me up can no longer even stand to listen to the whole story and how people who I never trusted with my story didn’t get it completely, but wanted to try–and how much I loved them for just trying.
And I realized that this story I want to tell is not just mine. That I can’t just go out and let the story find me–as I’ve always done. That this story has to be told deliberately–and that it won’t stay in any timeframe. And that maybe I will have to come back again and again until I find all the pieces of this broken heart.
But it’s time to start writing it all down. And it’s time to let go of all the pain. And the only way to do it is to watch it like some movie you can’t believe you got sucked into and slowly release your grip on that reality. And don’t hold tight to anything or anyone–except yourself.