Here in my pretty mountain city, we’re experiencing the 100-Year Flood. President Obama has called in federal disaster relief. FEMA is here. The National Guard helicopters whir over my head. The constant rain has a bone-thinning effect inside of me. I feel weak, frail, tepid.
Here’s the thing with natural disasters: You can turn down one street, and it looks like a sunny day filled with bikers, and then you turn the corner and there’s a river flowing out of someone’s house.
I am safe and dry. But I’ve been wracked with emotional turmoil for days, trying to give gentle support in a way that feels right to me. For others who are safe and warm in Boulder, I can’t stress this enough: We don’t need to feel guilty about not having our homes flooded. That kind of energy is restrictive; we can almost feel it choking us.
We have an excellent opportunity to practice holding our own boundaries while still being open to receiving others empathetically.
We restore balance by bringing our positive energy to those who need it most—which doesn’t mean we all need to bury ourselves under sewage, further endangering the entire community.
Whatever support—gentle, nourishing, spiritual—we can give is best given with 100% intention to heal. Which includes being healing to ourselves.
In the interest of moving the hardening shock I initially had downward into my chest toward opening, toward a place where I could feel what was happening—I started seeking out my own writing on Boulder.
I wrote the following almost exactly four years ago. I’d write the same today (with the exception of boyfriends now being exes, Saxy’s now being closed, and no longer having a day job). I feel the same. I’ve never met a place I loved so much. So, here I stay.
I bought some hot apple cider this afternoon and took a walk around Boulder, fogging up my sunglasses with cinnamon-nutmeg steam.
I forget how much I love autumn. I once wrote a short story about “the season of turmeric and spices, of osmanthus and scarf-worn longing.” Today there was a scarf—a red one, my favorite, that my friend Christian bought for me in India—but there was no longing. Just appreciation, a kind of breath-driven inner peace, the kind you feel after a deep stretch.
I love knowing a city so well. I know that when I walk past a certain cafe that my best friend’s boyfriend will be in there, working away on his next book. I know that the bathroom code to the local bookstore changes every week, and I always remember it until it no longer works. I know which intersections are always okay to cross even when the lights are green, because they’re hardly ever used.
I know it will take me 12.5 minutes to walk from my work to my favorite local gourmet deli, where I harass them for their wild Alaskan house-cured salmon. I love learning through Facebook that a favorite cafe — where Christian Brown and I would discuss our impending plans to travel the world over mochas and scones — is now serving hot apple cider, made from locally-grown apples; I love that I can walk there from my job, which is less than .5 miles away, because everything is less than .5 miles away.
I love that last night, as I was eating a delicious squash risotto with my close girl friend at my favorite restaurant, the bar manager — also my ex and friend — pointed at a table of diners and said, “They grew that squash you’re eating.”
I love feeling like I’m the only one who knows where a beautiful tea house is right downtown, because there’s hardly anyone there. I love having places to retreat outside of my home, and not having every inch of my city crowded with people.
I love knowing that at least one out of five of my closest friends will likely be at the local “herban” bar at any given point on a late afternoon, working on art, illustration, writing, or just drinking jun.
I like growing, and discovering that when I really want to live in a place — the settle-down kind of live — it will probably be a smaller city, because I just like knowing. My life is filled with going and staying, but I am gaining so much in the process.
And when it comes to Boulder, I’m so glad I stayed.