LA, you have not been particularly kind. At present, I'm lying in bed, relieved of my company manager duties for the day as I recover from a bout of what is surely food poisoning. I blame some probably not so fresh tahini and my already sensitive stomach's response to chickpeas. Feeling betrayed by my body AND the state of California (seriously, what did I do?), I think it's time to look backward on my transformative week in Colorado.
Upfront confession - I kinda fell madly, passionately in love. Like most crushes, it started slowly but creeped up on me mid-week and by the time I was welling up with each corner turned at Garden of the Gods, I knew I was done. I've been struggling to blog about the experience because Rocky Mountain High is definitely a thing - with or without the potent elixirs hawked on every corner in Denver - and I definitely had thoughts like, "I'm no longer afraid of death" once or twice last week. It was a religious and spiritual experience to be sure and I struggle with the words to capture it all at its most personal. Colorado tapped into all my vulnerabilities, forced an openness where I am usually reserved and got up close and intimate like we were meant to be this way all along. I could not fight it. Surrender Dorothy, I did.
Funny thing is, this was not my first Denver/Colorado rodeo, oh no. In fact, way back in early 2002, a younger, shorter-haired, thinner version of me went on a pilgrimage from Gainesville, FL to Denver in search of a shiny certificate that would (I hoped!) ensure a new career path. "Be Paid to Travel!" was the slogan of the International Guide Academy and a 3 week course culminating in an International Tour Manager certification was just the thing that 23 year old Ty thought she needed. When you are young, poor and possess a BA in Theatre Arts, you tend to get creative and I was tired of banging my head against closed stage doors. A life on the road, being paid to travel (!) and leading groups of septuagenarians around Europe seemed a good blend of my public speaking and logistical coordination skills.
I did well in this course. And despite being the youngest person in the class - by many years, these are jobs trés populaire for the retired set - returned to Florida with the praise of my instructors and high hopes for a new life in the travel industry.
It was short lived. Because, you see, to become a Tour Manager with one of the many outfitters across the country, you need to have quite a bit of life and work experience managing logistics, personalities and places. At that point, I had exactly two jobs to my post-college resume and no one was going to entrust 50PAX to a kid. I settled for a sales job with NETC (now WorldStrides, apparently) in Boston, hawking educational tours to teachers and parents.
But this was 2003, 9/11 still burned bright and fresh in collective memory and let's face it, an excellent cold caller I was not. I found myself leaving Boston a mere 9 months after arriving, packing up and shipping back South toward RR and our shared destiny in DC. I have certainly kept the skills acquired at IGA practiced and polished in my work as a DC tour guide but, it wasn't until July of last year that I finally used this resume credential to talk my way into an ACTUAL TOUR MANAGER position. And thank god, I did.
Because now, here I am. Back in Denver, back where this whole love affair started with no expectations other than getting through a solid week of work and maybe enjoying some Rocky Mountain views on the side.
But with no hesitation or doubt, Colorado took me in and claimed me as one of her own. I clicked instantly with the people - everyone was chill, cool and friendly. It was easy to fall in step. The weather - OH, the weather - had me from day one. I'd never experienced dry heat (my first time in CO was in February) and after two weeks of brutality in Texas and Florida, I could breathe again. The sun, so high and yet so close, kissed my forehead each morning and wrapped me up like the warmest of blankets. Clouds would move in for a moment, say hello and then dash out again. The air smelled sweet of lilac and honeysuckle adding calm to this level of peace and inner quiet I was already experiencing.
And that's what really got me. The whole week, I wasn't anxious; my brain not spouting off in 8000 directions ad nauseam. I could relax, despite knowing I was eight weeks away from unemployment. My mind stayed focused and still, even when the road box was late and the schedule needed to be adjusted. I was cool when we got the less than 24 hour notification that an interpreter would be in our very small, very intimate house for our one very oversold performance. I was supremely satisfied all week, floating in a sea of contentment. It's no wonder I did not want to leave.
My last three days in Colorado were some of the most perfect of my life. Even RR's particularly felt absence was mitigated by his understanding of what I was experiencing and the knowledge that we will, soon, return together. On Thursday, I took a solitary stroll around the beautiful Denver Botanic Gardens. Friday, was the day my life changed during my (again, solo) trip to Garden of the Gods and Saturday, with the help of super awesome hike buddy Ellen, I climbed the Rockies in search of a frozen lake. These stories are worthy of their own posts so I will sign off with one of my favorite photographs from one of my favorite days ever - the day I really laid eyes on the glory and grandeur of the American West. There's no coming back down. Rocky Mountain High is forever.