I'm from Colorado Springs originally. My parents moved there when I was 4, and I lived there until I was 28. Colorado Springs isn't a big city, nor is it a small town, though it was a lot smaller when I was growing up.
In the school years, my friends and I used to dream of moving away. Maybe we would go some place exciting and glamorous like LA. Or maybe go some place cosmopolitan like New York. It seemed like almost anywhere would be better than where we were. We just thought that COS was boring. Nothing exciting ever happened there.
When I moved to Seattle, I went there without ever having visited first. My life had fallen apart, and I figured if there were ever a chance for me to get out of there, that would be the best time to do it. Blank slate. Go to a town where no one knew me, and couldn't make judgments about who I was based on who I had been. But I would have to do it on my own. No family or old friends to run to if things got tough.
And that really was the best thing for me. Being an only child, I was often sheltered. I was protected and made safe. But I never really knew who I was, and what I could do, until I had to stand on my own. When my life had fallen apart, I either crawled out fighting, or I stayed there and withered.
I moved to Seattle because I had to. Those moments when I discovered sides of me that had always been there were immeasurable. I discovered I'm someone who loves to hike mountains. I never learned to ski in Colorado because I didn't have the money. I would be too chicken spit to kayak the Colorado rapids, but I loved sea kayaking. These were things I could have done in CO, but I learned to do in WA. Perhaps I never thought of it because I grew up with the Rockies, and took them for granted. They had always been there. They would always be there, in my mind.
But every time I went back to Colorado, it always felt like 'home'. It felt comforting and familiar. Even as things changed, it still felt the same. Even if I had been away, I could remember a dozen different roads, like an ant trail.
Colorado is pretty lucky in terms on natural disasters. We don't have earthquakes, tsunamis (that would be something else!), or hurricanes. The tornadoes only happen on the eastern plains, which is basically Kansas. But now I know what people who go through these disasters must feel.
I'm looking at pictures, and it takes my breathe away. These are pictures where I am connected. I recognize the landmarks as I recognize the back of my hand. I grew up with it. It had always been there.
What's particularly significant about this picture is you can see the mountain scarring from the strip mining a long time ago, from the 70s I believe. Notice how very little of it has healed over. I dread to think how long it will take the forests to recover from this fire.
When I visited Mt St Helens in Washington, I was speechless. There was an abrupt wasteland of a barren, treeless landscape. I wonder if my Colorado will look the same once this is over. Will I even recognize her?
The fire has spread way too close to where my family and friends are. They aren't in immediate danger, but they can't open windows because of the smoke. This is particularly bad because Colorado has been getting 100 degree weather, and not everyone has air conditioning.
My parents aren't in the immediate evac zone, but it's a lot closer than I'd like. Only 13 miles now. This is one of the times when I feel the distance between Georgia and Colorado. I feel so helpless, because I can't help them if they needed it.