Back in February, I came out to Colorado with a bunch of friends and stayed in a house on Copper Mountain for 10 days. It was my first time ever visiting the state, and Copper was my first taste of snowboarding out west. It was a little disappointing that we never got dumped on with snow, but the week and a half that we were all there was arguably one of the greatest experiences of my life. I woke up every morning in a beautiful house situated only a stone throw away from the chairlift. We’d get up early, ride all day, and dream of the next day’s riding all night. At the time, I never really thought about how the trip may have affected my life, but in retrospect, it did. After getting a taste for that lifestyle, I was never really content with things back in Maryland.
I remember my first day back home, still hyped on snowboarding and anxious to go ride again. I went up to our local mountain, Ski Liberty, and took one run. One. After I got to the bottom – which took maybe a whopping 30 seconds – I had this awkward, unsettling feeling in my gut. Suddenly, the place where I called “home” in terms of snowboarding was strange. It’s still difficult to describe, but something just seemed off.
With that feeling, I called it a day and went back to my truck. After taking my boots off, I looked back at the mountain and said my goodbyes. It was late season, the snow was anything but – just a lot of slush disconnected with scattered patches of mud and rocks – and I knew it would probably be my last day on the slopes. And when I started to drive away, I had another weird feeling – as if I knew that mountain in my rear-view wasn’t the place where I would be spending my next winter. Don’t get me wrong, Ski Liberty holds more memories for me than probably any other place in the world, but I guess I just realized that it was time for a change of pace. Not just from the resort, but from everything that was home.
Before I get too off topic (I’m now reminiscing over all of the times I spent driving to Liberty, listening to ridiculous songs and overdosing on McDonald’s dollar menu food), yesterday marked the day when I finally made sense of all of these unsettling-type feelings.
Originally, my plan was to just go hike Berthoud Pass in the morning with my friend Brad, in hopes of providing him with his first ever snowboarding experience (he’s from Alabama, so skiing/snowboarding isn’t quite as commonplace for him). But somehow we ended up taking the drive to Copper and trading hikes in for lift tickets – I’m glad we did.
As we pulled into the resort, it felt like I had never left. The signs, the buildings, the landscape – just everything around me was instantly familiar. And when I finally skated over to the lift line, this wave of sense and comfort enveloped me. Admittedly, I’ve questioned my choice to move out here over the past two months, and I’ve really wondered if the decisions I’ve made were the “right” ones at this point in my life. I can’t lie – I miss my friends, my family, my dog, and just the little things that made home “home” immensely. But yesterday, my visit to Copper provided solace in terms of it all. Just being there triggered all of the feelings, excitement and memories from that trip back in February. I no longer felt as if I needed to question my decisions.
Nine months ago – while out here – I set an alarm on my phone. It was set for some random day in the winter of 2012, and actually, I don’t even have that phone anymore, but what I typed was this: “Tyler, you better be living in Colorado…or else.” In the past, I’ve created promises, resolutions, plans, etc. that would ultimately never materialize. Of all theses promises to myself, I’m glad this was the one I kept. I’m still not sure what the “or else” would have consisted of, but I like to imagine it would have been something extremely clever and horrible. Regardless, I’m out here, and I’m more content with my life than I ever had been over the past few years. Will I one day call Colorado home? I’m not sure. But right now, that idea seems quite inviting…