Writing to Make Something Happen

I used to write every day. I wrote to escape from the dysfunctional life around me, to create new worlds I could understand, and to connect with others through an online community of artists. I also wrote to come to terms with events in my life and to help me rebuild my purpose. After my brother died, I skipped the ritual mourning period and tried to go back to school. I drove halfway across the country to vanish from the heartache and anger that were enveloping my family. I fell into a depression so deep that I didn’t even realize I was hurting myself out of despondency. Writing was the one thing that I could use to create a safe space where I could revive everything I had buried.

My most common medium was a sort of free-flowing poetry. I picked a typewriter font and pounded all of my thoughts into a long post. When I had nothing left to express – sometimes hours or days later – I sifted through the sentences, shaping cohesive paragraphs and picking more explicative words from the thesaurus. I didn’t have an end goal, I just wanted to express my frustration at the circumstances I was involved in and hopefully reach some sort of understanding.

Suicide isn’t an easy topic for a lot of people. There are political, social, and personal ideologies that complicate conversations regarding death that leaves more questions than answers. Emotions are insoluble, and coming to terms with a sense of loss without knowing how to feel is uncomfortable. I didn’t want to take drugs or pay someone to listen to me cry about my life, so I wrote it all down. I spewed all of my confusion and pain into graphic poems and short stories that followed no rules. I found people who had similar experiences and empathized with what I was going through.

It became easier to accept that I was sad about my brother killing himself and my writing allowed me to connect both to myself and others so that I could finally reconcile his death. I will always be dealing with this loss in my life, and I know that as long as I need to remind myself that I’m okay, I will always have my writing.

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The Beginning

Between Idaho and Colorado, I stopped in Douglas to meet a boy, and then I spent the weekend with him at his house in Laramie. He had stocked his fridge and cupboards with some of the foods I had mentioned were my favorite during the course of our numerous conversations prior to my arrival. He had soft blankets and enough pillows for two forts between the living room and bedroom. I walked through the door and felt like I already lived there. When he came home Friday afternoon, he took me out to visit the local breweries and craft bars, and then made me dinner. On Saturday, he escorted me to my first ever shooting expedition, we drove to Fort Collins and shopped around downtown, got tattoos that weren’t matching, but had a common theme (because this is totally what normal people do), stuffed ourselves with meat at a Brazilian steakhouse, and washed everything down between a couple FoCo breweries. He bought me my first Leatherman, too, so I can be even more badass.

capricornSunday we went to a Rockies game at Coors field and imbibed a few tall boys and some delicious burgers from CHUBurger – AND WE SAT IN THE 8th ROW – this guy pulled out all the stops, seriously. The Rockies lost, but that didn’t keep my new friend from carrying me out of the stadium on his shoulders – super awkward when you’re really tall, and the person you’re sitting on is just a smidge taller than you. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I was sad to be on my way Monday morning after he left for work. I enjoyed my time in Denver with my friends, but something was just gnawing at me, telling me I needed to go back to Laramie…that there was something still there for me to experience.

8 rows from the field!

I called Ira as I was going to bed on my last night in Denver and we talked about what I wanted to do with my life; where I wanted to go. I had nothing left for me in Kanab, I couldn’t go back to Arizona or Wisconsin, and my next options were extremely long-winded pursuits for my next move. He said I had a place to stay if I wanted to live in Laramie, and there were a lot of educational options both in Laramie and Cheyenne that I could look into. We already knew that we got along and had a lot in common, but I had to keep reminding myself that I might be on a vacation high, and that can lead to poor decisions and quick judgements. Fortunately, I’m well-versed in dealing with the consequences of both of these actions, so I returned to Laramie.

girl can shoot

The second weekend went a lot quicker knowing that I might actually be moving to this city of 30,000 people at 7,500 feet above sea level. We went on my second ever shooting experience, and I managed to get 8 of my 10 shots from a .223 assault rifle with a scope from 100 yards away inside the target, with 5 of those clustering in the middle. Ira also started showing me how to fly fish, but for some reason that was more intimidating than shooting guns. We hung around most of the weekend just enjoying each other’s company, but then Monday came around again, and we were off to get through another week.

I drove 10 hours back to Kanab as he headed to Douglas to continue his training at the police academy. It was almost the longest 10 hours I’ve ever experienced, save for my return trip to Laramie with my SUV packed with all of my worldly possessions. I pulled into Kanab in the early afternoon, took a nap, and started packing. I crammed everything into the SUV that brought me out to the tiny little southern Utah city not 3 months earlier, and was eager to hit the road to my next home. I stayed Monday night to see some friends and say goodbye, but at 10pm on Tuesday, I was out. So driving all night through the mountains and into the high plains of the west is an interesting adventure – filled with absolutely no light whatsoever until the sun rises, constantly threatening some sort of ungulate or winged creature in the road, and not promising where the next gas station will be. And as I don’t enjoy the benefits of caffeine: slapping my face as hard as I could, blasting myself with cold air, and eating grapes like they’re going out of style were all I could do to keep myself awake long enough to make it safely to the soft king bed that was waiting for me at my new house. I will say, though…watching the sun rise over the rolling landscape that I would now get to familiarize myself with, that was absolutely priceless.

And what does one do when they first move to a new city with a new guy that they LITERALLY just met? The answer is: a lot. Some examples I’ll expand upon next time: brewfest, puppy, graduation, farmer’s markets, puppy, school. Until I decide to write again, here’s a sample of the puppy item I mentioned:

puppy

The Middle

I no longer look on events in my life as good or bad. They may be defining, and they may be enlightening, but ultimately it is up to me to decide how to feel about what happened and what to do with that once they are over. Each opportunity, whether failed or succeeded by my personal standards, is never the end. Life, time, everything else continues – even the opportunity itself rumbles on in the background through my newly-gained experiences.  I learned what I needed to at the animal sanctuary, and it will still be a possibility for me if I ever want to go back, it’s just not where I have to be right now. I have to be where I am, and where I am is pursuing more learning opportunities to better round my skills out. But I didn’t get to where I am now because I planned it or set a schedule to stick by or because I have unlimited amounts of money and time. I have what I have, I’m just utilizing my resources to the best of my ability to continue my journey. And my journey will last the rest of my life, so I want to enjoy it.

When I reached the other side of Grand Teton National Park, I noticed some antelope on the side of the road and pulled over to watch them. There was a small herd of bison grazing in the background, and a pair of eagles floating overhead. I know to a lot of people out west that these animals are no big thing, but even in all of my driving back and forth across the country, I’ve only seen a handful of antelope in the distant hills of northern New Mexico, and bison have only existed in zoos (also a safari park in Flagstaff) and history books as a dilapidated species trying to make a comeback with the wolves. I seriously had never seen a wild buffalo…mission accomplished.

speed goats

About 2 weeks before I decided to peruse the high plains in search of my next adventure, I had met a guy online. We had been texting and video chatting up until this point, and part of the reason I was making my way across Wyoming was to get to Laramie to meet him during my trip. I planned a nice big loop through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and into the Four Corners so that I could return to Kanab eventually, and Laramie fit in there nicely. Like I said, I’m a big advocate for taking every possible opportunity, and this one would just make my trip more interesting, if nothing else. I texted this guy the photo above and exclaimed that my life was complete because I had now seen the last great migrating mammals of North America in the flesh. He texted back two words that I will forever use to refer to antelopes: Speed goats! I ignored the rest of the message, because I didn’t care if they were everywhere, they were freaking awesome. Side note: fields of horses are also amazing (basically my field of dreams).

field of dreams/horses

I pulled back onto the road to begin my detour towards Douglas, Wyoming, because I wanted to meet this guy earlier than we originally discussed, and because it was a more public place than his house. And because he went to school there, so I could meet him around some of his friends/colleagues. To be safe. My final reason is because his roommate called me a wimp when I complained about the distance adding two extra hours to my trip when I would already have been on the road for more than 12 hours total at that point. I have a problem with turning down dares sometimes, especially when they’re road trip related. To end this little digression, I headed to Douglas and made it into town with enough time to change into pants and freshen up a bit before I met this guy.

Long story (that I will get to in the next post) short, we had an awesome long weekend filled with lots of new things and getting to know each other. When I left on Monday morning to go to Denver, I was much more distraught than I thought I would be. I only figured that we would meet (according to my mom, this was a “super secret sex trip,” which is where I had left that conversation), have a good time, and then part ways. Again, more on this later. For now, my favorite city was on the horizon, and a few of my favorite friends were ready to hang out with me.

high tea

I’ve been to Denver quite a bit. At least once a year, sometimes twice – I just like it that much. In all my times of visiting Denver, I usually only hit up bars, breweries, and good restaurants that serve craft beer. Three of the last five times I’ve been there was for Great American Beer Festival. And every time I’m there, I hear how cool this thing called “high tea” is at this place called “The Brown Palace,” so I arrived for a late lunch (aka: high tea), and thoroughly enjoyed myself among all of the rich decor and fancy people. The Alchemist was a great companion and didn’t eat any of my little sandwiches. I can describe the experience as the best $50 I’ve ever spent on flavored water and hors d’oeuvres. Another life goal down, it was time to stroll the city and take a nap before a night in with my good friends. What wasn’t expected was the phone conversation I had with the guy I had just left that morning…but I’ll write about that later.

Lowdown

Not so bright and early the next morning, I enjoyed a little shopping spree – little being the operative word there – to pick up some clothes that actually fit me, since I had lost almost 35 pounds in the last six months. After, I looked up the closest brewery to me and parked for a flight at Lowdown Brewery and Kitchen and bought a $75 growler that’ll last through the apocalypse, or I want my money back. The bartender was just getting off his shift and asked if he could stay and have a pint with me, so of course I obliged – because who would turn down a tall, handsome, bearded bartender? I knocked another item off my list of firsts, since prior to this event, I had never really had a beer with a bartender after his shift, you know, like a normal person. We got to talking and I mentioned that I was just passing through town on my travels through the west and southwest, but that I wanted to get to at least five breweries while I was in Denver. This was stop number one. He escorted me to stop number two, TRVE Brewing, and I’m grateful he did…because I am so not metal.

TRVE

TRVE was really cool, and they had some delicious beers, but it was definitely better encountered with someone who knew what the hell was going on there. He asked what I was doing with the rest of my afternoon, I said I was going to dinner with my friend at Wynkoop, and that if he wanted, he could probably come with. I usually try to make it to one meal at Wynkoop when I’m in Denver, because it’s such a fun place; dinner was fantastic as always, and my new friend thoroughly entertained my old friend and then I seriously started questioning what the hell was going on in my life. Tall, handsome, bearded bartender needed a ride home, since I drove us to dinner, so my old friend headed home (she’s not old, obviously, she’s just a really awesome friend I’ve known for a while) and THBB and I headed to his place so he could get ready for his hockey game. Which I was then invited to. And I went. That was my Tuesday night. I made a new friend, I tried some new breweries, I saw a hockey game, I drank a little more…but “What the hell is my life?” came up more than once.

Jagged Mountain

ratio

Day three in Denver, I met up with my friend for lunch, we reminisced a little, caught up a lot, and talked about how cool it would be if I moved closer so we could see each other more. We talked about me starting another relationship after my divorce, and about her stepping up in the law world with her new job. We talked about big life decisions and taking chances and I love her for all of the things we can talk about candidly. I walked her back to work and we said our goodbyes. On my way out of town, I visited Jagged Mountain and Ratio Beerworks, absolutely stoked that I made it to five breweries, thus completing my goal for this trip. I didn’t make it to six breweries, I didn’t hang out with any more random people, and I didn’t end up buying any weed legally, but where I was headed next didn’t require those things be fulfilled. Because I wasn’t headed south to the Four Corners anymore.

I was headed back up to Laramie.

trippin

To be continued even more…