What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Langston Hughes, Lennox Avenue Mural, 1930’s
In the late summer of 2012 I moved from the man-made mountains of Chicago, IL to the natural skyscrapers of Colorado Springs, Co to realize a desire which I often regarded as a fleeting vision of freedom. I had a job that paid the bills, an apartment big enough for all my stuff, and was, at the time attending a graduate program; yet the prospect, the romantic prospect, of packing up and heading west aroused my nagging restlessness and insatiable need to tap-dance on the razor’s edge of complete controllable comfort and the forbidding possibility of losing it all in one hand.
A little back story: In the early spring of 2011 I took solo a trip to Italy. I visited Rome, took a train up to Pisa and after a few days took another to Florence. Oh to Florence! If my longing to permanently borough myself into the heartbeat of a place and people had ever been excited, it was in Florence. I spent about a week there; walking through the narrow, cobblestone streets, past Il Duomo, across the Ponte Vecchio, and up the Piazza di Michelangelo to watch the sunset. Then I came back home to Chicago; but by that point I knew the time to adopt another, unfamiliar world while still young enough to do so had realized itself in my belly. So I rented a cheap apartment on a year lease, allowing me to save enough money to support me for a short while, and applied for a European workman’s visa. The visa application was a bit more trouble than I expected, so I began to envision the possibility heading to the American west- more specifically, Colorado.
If ever there was an idea in your mind to spread your wings, stretch your wanderer’s legs, and seek bohemian adventure, here are some things to consider.
Make the Decision
My decision was not one big decision, but a series of small decisions. After my initial curiosity to relocate seemed only an exciting passing thought, I’d wake up every morning just prior to the dawn and stare up at my bare white ceiling and resign myself that I wasn’t really going anywhere, I was just talking cow dung. But as the days progressed my feet would fidget, my hands would clasp together in an arresting anxiety and re-decide that I was out of here. So if you’re having trouble holding on to those thoughts of adventure and your original motives, just remake your decision once everyday. These are feelings that have to be procured and nurtured because the thought and process are scary. It’s for you to decide how strong your desires are, and how far your willing to entertain them.
Once your decision has solidified itself in your mind, tell people. You don’t necessarily need anyone’s approval to try some desirous thing, but letting people that care about you know what your intentions are will at least allow room for support through future obstacles. As beautiful as American highways are, they can be long and lonely, but at least you know that people are wishing you the best and have your best interest at heart.
My initial plan was to pack my things, say my goodbyes, and head west with only my few possession. I planned to live off my savings until I was able to find any job that would support my bills and I. It didn’t turn out that way. I had set up a job and some room and board before I left. This was enough to help me transition to the different lifestyle without much suffering. Yet whether I had gotten that job or not, I would have still followed through with my initial plan. It all depends on your own will and tenacity to make this transition happen.
Want what you want
During my “dreaming of Colorado” phase I had met someone whom laid waste to any prospect of my ever leaving Chicago. Leaving was not an option as long as she was in my life, which was fine with me. Yet when it vanished, the bear’s voice in my belly re-awoke and off I was to the races again. If you have found a reason to suppress your bear’s voice, then don’t go anywhere, dismiss what I have written and don’t read any further. I know those reasons: “But I met someone,” “I see something good happening with this job,” “the circus is coming to town.” All valid reasons, but you can’t have one foot in and one foot out. You need to want what you want, but don’t compromise situations; they will only punch you in the face some time later, so find out what you want.
I’ve been in Colorado for six months now, and it hasn’t always been easy; it won’t be for many of you either. I’m also open to the idea that I might’ve made a mistake, but acknowledging the possibility of mistakes will only lead you to become more concrete in your convictions. This experience has become more than a check off my bucket list. I currently live in one of the most stunning states in the country and haven’t regretted it a single day. To borrow loosely from my man Thoreau:
I went to the mountains because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what they had to teach, and not, when I had come to die, discover I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854