Tips for folks moving to CO

Here in Colorado we’re super welcoming to all of our new transplants. To help you on CO welcomeyour way to becoming ‘a native’ (a Coloradan, not a tribe member!), here are some helpful tips and tricks!

  1. Keep your out-of-state car plates as long as possible. It helps CO drivers recognize you and welcome you to the state.
  2. Load up that ski rack and bike rack immediately. All ‘natives’ proudly show off their gear all year round, so get those racks loaded. Don’t have skis or a bike? Head to Dicks or Costco for affordable gear that screams ‘I’m outdoorsy’. Your Mustang convertible is going to rock with a snowboard on top!!
  3. Don’t have 4 wheel drive? Don’t worry! Driving in snow is easy.  Ignore those creepers and slow boats, hit the pedal and go! Now do stay close to the person in front of you and remember to slow down when you approach a hill. On the off-chance that you get stuck, just hit that accelerator hard!!!
  4. Talk to your neighbor about how much your rent/house price is. It’s always good to meet your neighbors, and they’re sure to be amazed at how expensive it is here. They’ll also value your perspective on the traffic situation and how you might fix it. Best of all, compare CO to where you came from. Folks always want to know how CO is measuring up to Missouri/Kansas/Texas/California/North Carolina.
  5. Did you know weed is legal here? Of course you did! It’s why you moved here. Now you might find our legal weed is slightly pricier than that seedy stuff you used to get from Justin back home, but if you let your local weed store know, they’re sure to welcome the feedback. Who knows? They might even give you a discount!!
  6. Don’t worry about a ‘native’ or long-term resident not liking you. They all have actual jobs plus they’re house value has tripled in the last 2 years (and which you’ll never be able to afford), so feel free to not like them back either!!
  7. Finally, remember to remind ‘natives’ how great the state is.  Some might seem grouchy or a bit argumentative, but it’s probably because they forgot how awesome Colorado actually is. After all, it’s why they moved here too!

Welcome to Colorful Colorado. We’re glad to have you here.. well, we will be, eventually.

The little things

006It’s been a tricky year in my new locale. New job, new company, new town, new state, new weather, new trails, new friends and weirdly no new men.

Trying to build life in a new place, amongst people who can’t tell you apart from a hole in the wall, and don’t have time to ask your name, well its pretty challenging. Doing it with a dog helps (especially when he looks slightly retarded like mine) but overall everything from finding a grocery story, new routes for an easy ride or even where to take visitors for a good meal can mean hours online, polling of work colleagues, and at least 3 U turns on the way to everywhere.

How I don’t have a ticket yet in CA is beyond me. The cops must be BLIND.

Along with all of this life building, I’ve been challenged by long hours at work, resistance from natives who resent us ‘new folks’ driving up rental prices, and for the last 5 months, a bum shoulder that refuses to heal.

I never realized how important that thing at the end of my collarbone was until now. Who knew?

Mainly I’ve missed my friends. All of the people who I knew well, or just slightly, but who at least knew my name. Knowing where the best taco truck is. And the bad sushi.

Finding friends in a new city, a new state is really f-ing hard at 40 something. It takes patience. Time. Extraversion. The ability to appear likeable over a 90 minute period.

See..??? Hard.

But since I’m British (well British-American), I vowed on this, my one year anniversary, to keep plugging away, looking at the palm trees and delighting in the little things I love about my new locale.

Like the motorists who pull over to let you lane split. The seals who watch my dog as he swims for a ball. The smell of the beach on a Friday afternoon. Fresh fish that wasn’t flown anywhere. Riding in redwoods. Motorcycling  on curved mountain roads built for my Guzzi. The Golden Gate bridge anytime.

The little things can be breathtaking.

I miss my old home town, I miss my friends and I miss a reasonable mechanic who isn’t out to fleece me. But as long as there are phones and planes, and the temperature never dips below 50… I’m building my Californian home.

I’ll just have to start dating my mechanic.

California – 3 months in

FroggerMy move to this weird and wackadoo state has been nothing if not eye-opening. I thought after 18+ years in the US, living in multiple states, I was accustomed to the ways and means of the American and its environs.  Apparently no-one told California it’s part of ‘Merica.

California is a state where people still throw things from car windows with abandon, but will scowl if you so much as inch towards letting your dog off leash. Where people will walk a 1/2 mile from the nearest house, office, mall, building etc.. to ensure their cigarette smoke doesn’t offend anyone, but will gaily drive across pedestrian crossings at 40mph while you’re in mid transit with a smile on their face.

I’m still learning the social norms of the place – and since I’m mid way between Googleville (aka San Francisco) and Hemptown (aka Santa Cruz), I’m constantly torn between what’s socially acceptable and what’s completely verboten.

For example, it’s totally fine to wear your work out gear 100% of the time in Santa Cruz… but in San Francisco, workout wear is strictly from 9-11am on a Sat or Sunday morning and only to coffee, (NOT brunch). Oh, and it MUST be black.

Santa Cruz is a ‘whatever’ town. San Francisco cares too deeply about everything to even comprehend that phrase. Living mid way between, my shoulders are basically partially shrugged at all times.

But I have picked up some new skills from this weird place.

– Frogger Driving. With 6-7 lanes, no one obeying any normal rules and even the CA motoring code says ‘pick the lane appropriate for your speed’, getting from A to B is like one big video game of ‘accelerate, signal, dodge, accelerate’. As long as you put aside certain death and anyone with an out-of-state license plate.. its kinda fun.

– Cheap milk location. With organic skim at $7.99 per gallon (yes, a gallon), milk is double the price of gas. Hence, I’ve turned into the person who will actually drive across town JUST to buy my gallons from that weird ‘Rotten Robbies’ store to save $2. Yes it’s called Rotten Robbies. And its a liquor store. But hey, they’re open 24 hrs and their organic skim is $5.99. Crushing it.

– Mountain Bike Trail exhibitionist. Apparently everyone is too busy polishing their Telsa’s or wine tasting because the trails here are EMPTY. Beautiful, single track, shady and as technical as you so desire.. they are boundless and silent. I’ve ridden alongside the ocean, through thick forests and across acres of empty fields. Up 30% grade ridges and down some way gnarly rock gardens. But with no-one around to hear me yelping or whooping, panting as I creep ever-so-slowly-up-22%-grade or shrieking as I pop a squat on some poison ivy.. my riding has become completely lacking in inhibition. I yelp, I squeal, I swear extremely loudly and I sound most of the time like a 90 yr old smoker trying to climb Everest. Except for the lack of chica friends …it’s really never been better. After all, if noone is there to see you suck, do you really actually suck? Nope. In my head I’m now a most excellent mountain biker. Even if I still fall off a lot.

So 3 months into CA and its been a whirlwind, weird and wonderful experience. I still haven’t found my peeps, but I have picked up some new skills, found some amazing places, gathered some stories and heck, I haven’t even started dating yet.

Can’t wait to see what the next 3 months brings…

 

 

 

Not better, just different

sfContrary to popular opinion, I am still alive. I am also not incarcerated, incinerated or incapacitated. Sadly I have not been held captive by a silver fox off the coast of Belize and no, I did not win the lottery.

I’ve just been rearranging my life.

In the last month I found a new job, planned a cross-country move, completed my Christmas shopping AND grew my hair an inch.

NOTE: Growing the hair was the toughest. This mother will just.not.grow.  I am doomed to a shaggy pixie for the remainder of my days.

After the best summer ever drew to a close I realized that it was now or never. Things were good. Work was …okay. My little life was pleasurable and harmonious. Nothing too exciting and something too stressful. I could quite happily continue to live out my days in gorgeous Colorado, riding my bike with awesome chicas, spending my Thursdays on an ever-increasing spiral of bad dates and doing a bit of work to pay the rent..OR I could change things.

Why change things when life is good? When you’ve found friends who actually ‘get’ you and an apartment where you can leave the door unlocked. Where life has a rhythm and cadence that is soothing and predictable. Where you give Uncle Fester a second date because.. well .. he wasn’t that awful. Why risk ‘good’ for ‘different’? Especially when different comes at twice the cost, double the traffic and the need to wear actual outfits to an office on a daily basis?

I can’t exactly explain it except that I knew something needed to change when my neighbor asked why I was doing my laundry on a Friday night instead of my usual Saturday morning. When another neighbor said ‘I knew it was you walking your dog because of your pajamas’ and I found myself counting down the hours one Saturday night until I could reasonably climb into bed with my book. It was 7.30pm.

I’m 42. Not dead.

Life can be too good. Too comfortable. Too ‘nice’. Life without edges can make you sloppy and your brain fuzzy. You settle into routines that your grandmother would find boring. And when you realize you’re waiting out the days.. until…well..something different happens. Yes,  something needs to change.

So I decided to make a change.

In a few weeks, 19 years after I arrived, I’m leaving the rocky mountain state for the west coast. Back to water and Democratic majorities, GMO-hating hippies and Silicon Valley geekdom. I’m excited to use my brain again (the dust bunnies up there are something else), to explore a whole new state, to find new friends and spend a winter without thermals covering every square inch of my body.

Sure it’s going to suck. Its going to be exhausting and my expectations aren’t for some miraculous life change. Just something different. New roads, new trails, new weather, new vistas. Not better, just different. I’m 42 and we only get one time around. Going to bed at 7.30pm on a Saturday night out of boredom isn’t how I want to remember my 40s. That isn’t living.. it’s just passing time. So instead I choose change. I choose different.

I’ll keep you posted.