One day last week, while on a work related errand, I walked across the capital grounds. I noticed the engraved “one mile above sea level” on the steps to the capital, and like a tourist in my own life, I took a photo.
As someone who grew up in the midwest, I have never gotten over my amazement of living in the Rocky Mountain West. You would think I would – it has, after all, been 36 years since I left the fertile midwestern plains for the rocky, dusty, arid west.
I will never forget sitting in an sober club in my early sobriety. A young man came running up the stairs and announced to everyone, as if announcing that a spaceship from Mars had just landed in the parking lot, “Holy Crap! It’s the Rocky Mountains out there!” as he pointed out the window. Early sobriety is like that. You have profound realizations that had escaped your notice through the years of drunkenness.
I had never lived anywhere for long before coming to Denver (and getting sober) in 1984. In school, I always felt like an outsider, I didn’t know everyone from birth like everyone else seemed to. Moving around will do that. I always felt like a “transplant” no matter where I went. Living in New Mexico was even more of a cultural outsider experience. In the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, everyone was so “cool,” and “hip,” I never felt I belonged. Though Denver was the last place I ever wanted to live, and I was furious with my husband for moving us here without my consent, it was here I found my home.
At five years of sobriety, I went with a friend to Lookout Mountain on a Friday night. We wanted to talk, and he being a Denver native, wanted to go there. So we did. We talked, and like that young man noticing the Rocky Mountains for the first time, I looked out at my city and cried. I realized this was my Home. My Real Home. Because I got sober here. And now I’ve raised my kids here. And now my grandchildren are growing up here. It is home.
But I still am like a little kid, gawking at mountains as if I’ve never seen one. Sitting in a mountain stream as if I have never seen water before. Taking photos of wild flowers as if they are a new phenomena. And walking quickly through my city, during a work-day errand – I stop to take photos at the Capital. As if I just got off the tour bus.
I am extremely grateful for this ability to be amazed. Every day, if I will open my eyes.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name? Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with mercy and compassion, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. — Psalm 103:1-5