UPDATE: A few weeks before my Amman program ended and I was going to head to Nablus, my parents and I decided I should come home for Christmas and return to Nablus in the beginning of February for the start of my job there. So here I am in Colorado!
If you have ever heard a Coloradan complain about their home state, chances are they have never left Colorado for any period of time. Three years ago I was caught up in everything Colorado was not. It wasn’t west coast or east coast. No Beaches like California, or prime location like New York. My longing for the bustling east lead me to school in New York, though the town I ended up in is just another Boulder, and the weather a lot more grey.
Each day I was reminded how wonderful Colorado is. A trip to the “mountains” in New York for a snowboarding trip left me amused at how hill deprived the East is and ashamed of not appreciating the grandiose mountain range that had always been out my bedroom window. Until I left for school, I could not imagine a horizon without the Rockies, yet how can you appreciate something that is always there? The truth is, the sun sets a little prettier over the Rockies, the snow shines a little brighter on a mountain top, and life’s small details seem a little less significant next to the Mountains demanding and humbling composure, I just needed to see a mountain free horizon to understand.
A walk down many Colorado streets includes smiles and greetings between perfect strangers, a practice I quickly abandoned in New York after several confused faces and uncertain responses. The surreal detachment between individuals allowed me to understand how someone could feel alone on a crowded street. How can people see a neighbor walking by and pretend they aren’t there?
The sun shines brighter a mile high. And more often too! 300 days of sunshine. Clouds in Colorado are rarely an entire umbrella over the horizon and are more often, as clouds should be, small patches in the sky that offer an occasional break from the brilliant sun.
When I arrived at orientation in what would be my new home of Ithaca, NY, I was exaggeratedly warned of the large amounts of snow I would face. Now let me get this straight, I had lived my life in a state where I had been snowed in at least once a year. No, I mean really snowed in. Not, ‘oh, my 2 door, crappy tired, 2 wheel drive car can’t drive on the 4 inches of snow on the ground’. I mean, my mom’s Snow-tired suburban can’t get out of the driveway because there are 6 foot snowdrifts behind our garage. And if we could get the Suburban out on a snowy weekend (because we wouldn’t have had a snow day for anything short of an avalanche), we would grab the tow-rope and go tow out strangers who got caught in the snow on the way to work. Whether we were snowed in, or out driving in the snow, those white days are some of the best memories I have; tunnel through the deep snow, build snowmen, and, of course, going sledding.
I found their warning of snow inappropriately characterized the approaching demon. The true spirit killer was the grey and the cold. The snow was nothing and my beautiful Colorado car, equipped with snow tires, and a tow rope in the trunk was in donut heaven, and never once struggled on Ithaca’s large hills. But with the snow came the grey and the sun wasn’t seen again for months at a time. The snow didn’t melt for ages. The wind chill of the lake made the weather bitter, so perfectly fluffy snow went untouched with very few snowmen or snow angels breaking the flat white blanket. People cuddled up in their homes and were not seen unless they had to go out, and then they were bundled up until they looked like brightly colored marshmallows, rushing through the miserable cold hurrying to class, the store, or wherever had pulled them out of their warm havens.
Perhaps I’m over idealizing and hyper-glorifying… In fact, I can’t wait until I return to Ithaca next fall for my senior year. But, after a few months away, I know I will find myself once again longing for a Colorado Christmas.