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Someplace That I Used to Live

Due to a last-minute change of plans, I had a little time to kill between Hot Springs and Tucson. It just so happened that my renters were leaving at the same time and new ones weren't coming until April 1, so naturally, it made sense to swing through Boulder. I could check on my place, say hi to friends, and do all the doctor/dentist/optometrist adult type appointments that were overdue. As you might guess, I wasn't entirely joyous at the prospect of going to Boulder, but I do have ties there and no other permanent home at the moment, so I found myself Colorado bound.

I arrived right after the enormous snowstorm, so I was relieved to find the roads were clear the whole way coming up from the southeast. A friend of mine was attempting to drive back from Big Sky, Montana (northwest) at the same time and ended up getting rerouted way east into Nebraska and back around. 

If you have to be in Boulder in the winter, post-snowstorm is the best time be there because the snow blanket makes everything beautiful. When I pulled off the main highway that passes through Boulder and headed westward, the foothills rose up in the dusk, a shadowy white wall dotted with pines that looked black in the disappearing light. It really took my breath away. And a few days later when I drove up into the foothills of Boulder for a punishing 11 mile run at 8,500 feet, I marveled at just how beautiful the area is. I had really forgotten. I hadn't seen anything like it in so long.

snow covered branches of a tree

mountains covered with a little snow

park with snow-covered mountains in the background

Being in my place felt so strange at first. A few things, like lamps and side tables, had been moved around, the comforters had been swapped from one bed to another, one closet had some new frilly, padded lingerie-type hangers in it, the deck had been painted by the HOA, and the place just felt sterile and empty. I quickly brought some of my belongings upstairs, and then it started to feel more normal. And the next day, taking a look around, I realized that I have a really nice little condo. It's modern, clean, simple, tasteful, and comfortable. It's a solid place.

Still, it took me a little while to remember some simple things, like what I used to do with my recycling and where I put Trotsky's food. But Trotsky, well, he had no such issues. He went right back into his old habit of standing on the deck, barking at all the dogs passing by. And even though he wasn't able to make it up and down the stairs more than once a day anymore, he really perked right up being back in Boulder. 

dog on a balcony looking at a snowy road

woman and fuzzy dog lying down together

My place sustained some damage from the five sets of AirBnB renters I've had so far, but that's to be expected. Most of it was minor, except for the tile damage in the picture below, which my agent charged them for. (By the way, if you're thinking of renting out your place, get a professional agent who is an AirBnB superhost. 100 percent worth his commission.) There was also some unusual food left in my pantry, which I in turn left for the next guests. 

broken tilecan of questionable meat

Did I change my mind about permanently leaving Boulder during my eight days there? Or at least feel like I was missing out on something? No, not at all. If anything, my visit solidified my decision that I don't ever want to live there again. I loved seeing my friends, of course. I'm so grateful that all my favorite people were around and able to get together, and I got in some sessions at my old gym, which I love, and went to check out some new places. 
woman in front of building with light snowfall

But, for all the following reasons, Boulder is not for me:
  • Too expensive. I spent $19 on a fried chicken lunch from a food truck. 
  • Too crowded. The Saturday after the snowstorm was a beautiful, beautiful day. The wait for a table at the brewery Avery was 3.5 hours!
  • Too much money. I love my gym in Boulder because there is no other workout I've had like it. And I know it's expensive and exclusive, but after spending six months in normal and poorer America, I felt so uncomfortable there now, parking my beloved but junky SUV in between all the Teslas and Range Rovers and Porches. And sitting there in class with all the uber fit women in their $200 workout outfits. I've never liked being around excessive wealth and I was relieved to get away from it the last six months.  
  • The homeless problem is getting out of control. I was already afraid to walk down the creek path by the time I left in October because of all the tent cities. Going back last month, I saw they were now springing up in the neighborhood by my condo as well. And vandalism in my community is up. 
  • And all my other friends are leaving. Two have left the area permanently, one is leaving this summer, and two others are heavily considering leaving. 
And, of course, the unfortunate mass shooting two days before I left. That was so incomprehensible to happen in a place like Boulder, that when a friend texted me the active shooter warning, my first thought was that it was some fringe wacko being weird and everyone was blowing it out of proportion. Not until a half hour later when my phone started dinging like crazy with messages from people wanting to know if I was okay did I turn on the news. And it still wasn't until the next day when they released the victim count and names that I couldn't accept that it really happened. It didn't seem possible. I'm relieved that I don't know anyone on the list; Boulder is very small. But if Boulder isn't safe, nowhere is. And while the generosity of people in Boulder is touching, I'd rather be elsewhere.