Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the City

It was the end of 1989, and I had decided that I wanted to move to Colorado. I was an art student at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City, so believe me, this was a huge decision to walk away from such a prestigious institution. Two years prior, when I first applied immediately after I arrived in Manhattan, I wasn’t accepted. Needless to say, I was devastated. But I immediately picked myself back up and attended a reputable trade school to hone my design skills in the interim. After attending this trade school for a year and building up my portfolio, I applied to Parsons yet again. This time, I was accepted into their graphic design program.

I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe that in just a few short months, I would be attending the ‘Harvard’ of art schools.

After a full year of learning everything I could, from art history to graphic design, I knew that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Studying at the best museums in the world, learning from the best instructors in the city—it was stressful, but I was like a sponge and soaked it all up.

Throughout all of this, I was still a skier at heart. I was obsessed with it. All I wanted to do was ski! Even my boyfriend at the time was annoyed by my obsession since he unfortunately didn’t ski himself.

What was I to do? I lived in the middle of Manhattan without a car, and as a struggling student without money to afford a single lift ticket, let alone transportation to get there and back, my skiing expeditions would soon be a faint memory.

Not long after, I saw an ad in the Village Voice looking for local ski guides. No pay, no money, just free skiing throughout the northeast. My job only involved making sure the skiers were properly fitted for their gear and they were equipped with their lift tickets. That’s it. Free lift tickets, free transportation and free hotel stays. It was the perfect solution to a poor skier’s plight.

Even though this afforded me my much needed skiing-fix that I desired, something was still amiss in my heart. Maybe it was the cold, icy conditions that seemed to grow tiresome throughout the northeast, but I knew, after living in New York City for two years, I wanted to make a change.

But where? How?

So where do skiers go?

That’s an easy one—Colorado. So I made up my mind. Colorado would soon be my next destination.

Once I made up my mind as to where, I needed to figure out the how and what school would I transfer to. I went to the nearest bookstore and immediately purchased a book that outlined all art schools throughout the country. Afterwards, I purchased a map of Colorado to show me where all of the ski resorts were located (it was important that I could be as accessible to them as possible). I took out a red pen and circled every ski resort located in the state of Colorado. It was apparent that the majority of the ski resorts are located in the northern Colorado region, thus narrowing down my search for my next university destination.

Once I figured out which school I would be applying to, the rest would be easy.

Or so I thought.

Immediately after receiving my acceptance to CSU, it was recommended that I quickly find my next living arrangement. I was told from someone in the admissions office that at the time, housing was a rare commodity in the Ft. Collins area, and I had better come out as soon as possible to find a place to live.

Great! It was easy up until this point, so I was happy to finally visit my soon-to-be new home and look for an apartment to prepare me for my upcoming transfer for the fall 1990 semester.

After my arrival to Stapleton Airport in Denver, I rented a car and headed north up the interstate towards Ft. Collins.

The excitement was building up inside of me as I approached the Ft. Collins area, only to be disappointed once I headed west on Hwy. 14.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought to myself, “what did I get myself into?” I was a city girl, arriving to an agricultural town in the middle of nowhere. How could this be where a thriving university resides? I felt sadness and disappointment all at once. I thought there would be mountains all around me, snow everywhere on the ground (even though it was the middle of May)—like what everybody imagines Colorado to be.

Only to experience none of this.

The mountains consisted of the foothills to the west which didn’t impress me, and when you look east, it was just flat plains heading towards Kansas.

I expected a plethora of trees, but there were none. How could this be? I realize coming from the northeast and being born in Connecticut, I was used to trees all around me, but in Colorado I didn’t expect to see so few.

I headed towards the university campus so I could receive the proper paperwork to get me started on my search for a place to live, only to be disappointed again.

As soon as I found my apartment (4 miles from campus), I headed back to New York feeling nothing shy of dissatisfaction.

Was it too late to back out? Should I just stay in the city and stay at Parsons until I graduated? At this point, I was living in New Jersey with a roommate and had already given her notice, basically rendering me homeless had I chosen to stay.

OK, I’ll do it. I’ll move to Colorado—what I thought would be temporary—and ski and study. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

Fast-forward 20 years later, and I’m still living in Ft. Collins.

I’m married now, with a 10 year old daughter. Even though I have grown to love Colorado, there is that part of me that misses the city life so much. I miss the arts, the culture, the easy walks to grocery stores, coffee shops, pizza shops, etc. all within an easy grasp. I miss everything about the city, and I miss the east coast way of life. So even though I occasionally look back and miss New York City a great deal, I know that for now, this is the best situation for our family.

But, there is this other side of me that loves living in Colorado and loves the laid back way of life, and I can feel confident raising my daughter here and know that she will receive an excellent education.

And in the meantime, I will continue to watch Sex and the City reruns and reminisce about how my life once was.



Peg said...

It's always interesting to hear stories about the road each of us has traveled to get to where we are now. Funny how life just sends you on a path that isn't always the first path you choose, but in the end it is what it is. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

one girl creative said...

Thanks, Peggy!

We definitely can't plan everything in our lives, can we?