The air is changing here in Durango as Chris & I prepare to leave. There’s a cool breeze, a promise of fall. Last week I saw a few leaves turning orange. It’s beautiful. Just like when I fell in love with Durango last year. I am going to miss this place — and not just for the Colorado sunshine.
One of the best things about Durango, by my book, is David Holub, man about town. Of course I love it here; I’ve been introduced to Durango via Dave’s enthusiasm for people who are creative, brave, and dedicated to their passions.
There is, truly, a lot of awesomeness in Durango. It felt really good to fit into a community for a few months, to get to know people more than “I’m just passing through” tends to allow. I’ve been lucky to have Dave introduce me to writers, makers, artists, friends — always with a story about why each person is amazing. He is so generous about sharing his life.
Even more so, I’m so grateful for all the hours Dave and I have spent talking about life, love, and writing (and probably one or two other things too). It filled my well.
I like that Chris and Dave have fun, too.
And, oh, Durango! I think I got what I needed here.
I’ve grown in some good ways. The place, and the people allowed that to happen. The friendships helped. The landscape to walk in helped. Being inspired by others helped. Having consistent time and space to myself helped.
Even little things helped, like how friendly the grocery clerks are in Durango; I’m going to miss City Market. It’s impossible to walk around this town for very long without sharing a smile with a stranger. People’s eyes have light in them, more frequently than I see in most other places. (And, I’ve been to many other places recently.)
It’s been a good summer.
Durango is special.
Here in Durango, this song has me singing “mother, mother mountain.”
Every direction I look, from anywhere in town, there’s a mountain view. Here’s the one from my bedroom window, as I write this.
(This Pirate — er, Cricket — just turned 40 last month while on an adventure with Chris at the Lightening Fields. Which we’ll tell you about one day….)
In two weeks I’ll be beside mother ocean herself again, at Big Sur. This strip of lightly populated rugged stony coastline nestled into the Santa Lucia Mountains is one of the places I fell most in love with on our travels.
Cold nights kept us moving south a little too fast last fall (and my halfway meltdown was imminent) and I’ve always wanted to go back. (Actually, I tried to go back once with the Cricket, while Chris was in Denver. There’s a story about that…)
I’ll be spending a week of unstructured time, off line, overlooking the ocean, at the Esalen Institute. I haven’t watched the last season of Mad Men yet, but Chris tells me I’m in good company (and this video sums it all up pretty well – spoiler alert).
You might think that I’m blissed out and meditating (or drinking, or dancing, or strolling through mountain meadows, or watching acrobats) all the time now. It’s partly true!
But I’m a bit like Don Draper, in ways (and not in ways, too, I assure you!). One of the reasons I’m so excited to have a room here in Durango is that I have an office, a place to dig into project work and strategic thinking, a personal workspace. A “be me” space. My first day here, I bought a white board. I’ve been geeking out about how to organize my time and get my many creative things moving. (As well as to plan for what’s next employment-wise, of course.)
In contrast to the free flowing days on the road, I’m excited for routine. And I LOVE making things happen. XKCD’s recent post perfectly captures the kind of debates I have with myself about how much is too much…
After Chris & I were in Joshua Tree, scrambling around on rocks had me thinking, once again, about fear and adult learning. This weekend in Durango I met a young man who has me thinking about adult learning (and fear, and perfectionism, and inner drive) yet again.
(Photos of me by Chris at White Sands.)
This young man is 26ish, wiry and strong, and a brilliant acrobat. He seems, from the couple of hours that I watched him play in a mutual friends’ home gymnasium late one night, to have some innate sense of how to move his body through new challenges. And yet —
When we first met, earlier that night at a bar, he was terrified of dancing. He wanted to, would move to the edge of the bench we were sitting on, but he couldn’t quite. He gritted his teeth. He was scared.
He couldn’t see it as: Just Have Fun. All he could think about were the things he couldn’t do yet. Perhaps that he wouldn’t be good enough.
(The way he perched there reminds myself of on a cliff edge, bouncing my knees and on the balls of my feet, contemplating cannonballing into a river while friends watch. Fear and excitement.)
While sitting, not dancing, we talked for a while about his fear. I had been prepped for this (our mutual friend mentioned earlier that the young man is awesome, and doesn’t own it yet) and I was interested to try to understand why. (NB: I wasn’t in the mood to dance either, for my own reasons.)
The part that I can relate to is this: every time he masters something, he thinks immediately about what he wants to learn next. (Or, that’s my personalized paraphrased version, at least.) His orientation is to focus on what he can’t do, and try for it. Or at least want for it.
It feels fun because he gets excited about the process of learning itself, figuring out how to do things. He told me about practicing on his skateboard as a kid, about getting a trampoline and learning flips on that, about these activities that seem to be both practice and play. (It’s the same kind of thing as the guy or gal who codes on their computer all night, or plays guitar all the time, or writes, and more.)
He also told me about so many things he wants to do. He referenced an amazing dub step dancer that I assume is this guy or someone like him, and I could see his eyes widen with awe as he spoke about it. He was thinking about the distance between his own abilities and the youtube dancer’s. It was tantalizing and torturous.
(I know that feeling. It can hold you back, or it can push you. It depends.)
This young man really does try hard, and that impressed me later in the night. I watched him flip upside down across the floor, over and over, toppling his hat off his head and trying to catch it with his foot as he landed right side up. Over and over. And other moves, tripping up and continuing to try. It looked like fun and work, all rolled into one.
He tried brand new things, too. The young man does floor work as his “thing” I think, and he wanted to jump through the Lyra (a big aerial hoop, higher off the ground than I am tall) and what google tells me might be called a flow staff. He wound his arms into silks, I think, as well, hung and swung in the air. (Other people did these things too, and other things. It was an amazing group of talented people. I’d like to write more about our hosts themselves. And take pictures! But I’m interested today in this particular young man’s learning process because we had talked about it together, and I had related to it, even though I learn different kinds of things.)
The vibe was definitely different in the privacy of the home gym, and you might think that he was worried only about strangers watching him at the bar, felt comfortable with his friends. But as he finally got up to dance at the bar, he asked those of us with him not to watch. And then he was comfortable around us later.
He seemed pretty serious about not watching, because he seemed like a serious person. So I tried to honor that, focused my attention on conversations and other parts of the room. Someone pointed me to him though, and for a moment I saw him agile on the dance floor, moving his body in ways I couldn’t even figure out how to mirror, before looking away.
I mentioned it later. “You weren’t supposed to watch!” he said. I explained.
Later, when parting ways, I told him it was nice to see him relax, smiling, playing in the gym. How different his face looked from when we were at the bar. Now he was lit up.
“I’ve got to work on that,” he said. And in that moment, it seemed like whatever was holding him back at the bar would be just one more thing to master, for fun.
It has, shockingly, been almost two months since we last posted. Time flies when you’re having fun!
(Or, sometimes, it simply takes us a little while to sort through photos and percolate on impressions of the things we’re seeing and doing.)
(Or, other times, honestly, we’re busy figuring out what’s next and how to survive life on the road.)
Since we last wrote, we have traveled through much of the southwest… from California’s Death Valley; into Nevada’s Lake Mead & Valley of Fire; we’ve seen Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and the cactus flowers blooming in Arizona; made short trips into Mexico and seen some amazing art in New Mexico; met up with family at Big Bend in Texas; and then rested for a bit with friends and family in Colorado.
Phew! There will eventually be posts on all this, and more.
As I write this, I am relaxing on a couple-of-week visit to friends and family back east. After everything amazing we’ve seen on the road, it’s still really good to be back here in the land of trees. This New England girl was getting majorly burned out on the desert.
Meanwhile, Chris continues on with the Cricket to see some magnificent southwestern destinations in Arizona and Utah. (He is a bit hardier than I.) You can find updates from him on Facebook and Instagram until he shares his photos on this blog.
We will reunite in Durango, Colorado, where we’ve rented a place for the summer. For me, the single most challenging things about being on the road is the loneliness or lack of community. I am so thankful for Chris’ company, we have grown closer in so many ways as a result of traveling together like this. Yet even with his regular presence, and with the fellow adventurers we meet on the road, in campgrounds, on hikes, or online, I started to feel like I was missing something. I’m such an introvert, and I so value my time alone, that it surprised me to discover the extent to which I wasn’t getting my relational needs met.
I’m really grateful that we have the wherewithal to stop, nest a bit, and experience a different sort of adventure living temporarily in a different place. There’s so much going on in Durango, and we are lucky to have a dear friend there; I’m hopeful it will be a good place to make new friends, do some volunteer work, dig in to projects that are more difficult to accomplish while camping, and explore the surrounding area via weekend trips in the Cricket.
From there we’ll drive to Burning Man (we both got tickets this year!) and then … we will be heading “home”!
I put home in quotes because for eleven months now, our little Cricket has been home. We tow our home behind us. We leave our home in campgrounds while we explore new places. Home is where we cook, eat, sleep, laugh, argue, connect online, and store our things. Yet after many conversations about what’s next, we are pretty certain that our more permanent location will indeed be back east. Despite all we’ve seen, we haven’t found a place that matches what we love about our community, the location, and the opportunities we have here. But the resettling part of the journey is still more than four months out, and for now we continue our year-plus adventure in ways both expected and surprising!
I promise, there’s more to come.
I’m spending these weeks in Durango with our good buddy Dave.
He was kind enough to welcome the idea of hosting me while Chris is at Burning Man so I flew in, procured a bike from Craigslist, and we got to having fun. In the picture above we’re at the San Juan Brewfest. He also took me (and his awesome new lady friend) to an opening at his favorite local gallery, Studio &.
We’re hanging out and talking, and writing, and talking about writing. And art. It’s great! Durango is the sort of happy place in which, on rainy days, you see rainbows. I love it here. (I’m secretly — or not so secretly, now! — rooting for Chris’ parents to relocate here.)
The scenery is amazing here, but my staff photographer is on vacation. So I took a few snapshots like this one of Dave & the Animus.
Meanwhile, Chris had “our” first Cricket sighting on the way into Burning Man.