Place Where You Live:

Denver, Colorado

Seven years ago I moved to Denver because I was in love, but not with Denver. Big cities grate on my soul, and I need mountains. Though my friend from New York disagrees, Denver, with 650,000 people, is a big city. And though it’s accepted that there are mountains in Denver, I would qualify that. From the city’s freeways the mountains are distant, aloof, separated by traffic jams I can’t navigate and bothersome carbon footprints. These mountains are not the 20-minute-drive mountains of my childhood home, Salt Lake City. But Denver’s far off mountains, burgeoning population, and harried vibe can be overlooked because it is a city of contrasts, contrasts among times and places. Early Sunday mornings rounding the southeast corner of Washington Park, awe sneaks up, then blooms. The snow covered mountains rise from the plains above the green swath and the glimmer of the slate-colored lake. Later, though, in good weather the same park is jammed with people and dogs, volleyball games and beer, skateboards and rental bikes. I might as well be on the freeway again, the magic of place locked away behind barriers I can’t scale. At 6 AM on weekday mornings, the roar of the traffic intensifies, wakes me. I have tried to pretend it is a raging river, but my imagination fails me. Yet, on my bike, going to school, when I come over the last ridge just east of Rocky Mountain Lake the stunning view awakens my spirit. In the distance is the Never-Summer range, defined against the almost-always blue sky by year-round snow. Close by, the lake is ringed with cattails housing red-wing black birds that take precedence over the city’s noise. This place takes me away from the oppressing busyness of the city beyond. The fact that I have just crossed Federal Boulevard, one of the busiest north-south corridors in the city, drops away. Gratitude sweeps over me. Almost every day I think about stopping to record what I see. But I don’t. This is a view I want saved in my soul, not on my cell phone.