At the Taj
I landed in Colorado on January 30, 2008. It was my 34th birthday. I was all alone. It started out as a bitterly cold day. When I was close enough to Denver that I should have seen mountains huge clouds blocked the sky to he west. Snow began flying somewhere west of Limon. By the time I reached rush hour traffic on I-70 in Wheat Ridge I was driving in a whiteout.
The next day was cold but clear. I drove on into Golden in my jam packed car looking to find a more permanent place to stay.
I was in a strange place, all alone, facing an unknown new adventure, and having left my family behind in tears and sadness. My emotions ran the gamut that day.
I'm wired to love seeing and exploring new places, but my heart wasn't in it. The harsh-bright sun couldn't warm my soul that day. I was overwhelmed more than I had ever felt in my life.
Almost five years have passed. On one hand it seems as if it's been decades. I'm not the same person. So much has happened since that day. I'm older. My perspective has broadened. The world has shrunk. My mental map has expanded.
I moved to Colorado for a job. Jefferson County Planning & Zoning offered me an entry level position and I accepted. I resisted the urge to do happy dances because I was going to be moving to Colorado where I would be near the mountains I'd always wanted to be near. Colorado was the cliche I'd always tried to avoid in my outdoor pursuits. Wyoming had been my dream. But I'd settle for Colorado in a pinch.
Admittedly, I was motivated by the cliche. How cool--to live in Colorado?
My first day in Golden I saw the building where I would be working. The locals call it The Taj. It's proper name is the Jefferson County Courts & Administration Building. It's the Jefferson County courthouse.
It's an imposing structure. I guess if I were a more conventionally wired person I would have been giddy to have been working in such a massive building, all clean lines in stone, with its signature glass dome. Instead, I think I was intimidated. What will would have conceived such a structure and placed it overlooking Golden where it dominated a landscape characterized by monolithic geologic features?
It represented money. A lot of money. Once I learned its history my intimidation was confirmed. Against the will of the citizenry the commissioners of yore that had conceived of this edifice pushed on through controversy and resistance to have it built.
At first I felt like a little fish in a big pond. I was surrounded by a world bigger and grander than anything I had previously experienced. I felt like an interloper, a con. I couldn't fit. Could I?
In time I grew roughly into my place. I never felt like I was in the right climatic zone for my roots to thrive, but I did my best as a stunted individual.
The past year things fell apart. The medium I found myself anchored in was not conducive for growth. I'd gone beyond stagnation. I'd exceeded my shelf life.
My work performance became deplorable. My attitude was rank. I moved dully through the world in quiet desperation. One way or the other my time at Jeffco was limited. Either I'd go beyond burnout and swing into violent disgruntledness, or I'd find any old job to repot myself in.
Resumes were resulting in silence. Interviews were non-existent. Relevant positions were scarce. I couldn't help but feel hopeless in the situation I found myself in. I'd burned up vacation and sick time in an effort to insulate myself from the stress. I'd skirted the edge of acceptable behavior until I had no more strikes left. I was almost out for good.
Then the blinding ray of hope struck me, and it seemed as if the very hand of Providence led me out of my dark valley and pointed my toward the green pastures beside the still waters.
Hope came back into my life. The weight fell heavily from my shoulders. Of course the past couple of weeks we've been plodding on up out of that valley. The air has been fresher, the skies bluer, but the climb out is steep and difficult. The end is in sight.
In just a short while I'll leave this grand building for good. I'll no longer be employed by Jefferson County. I'll be free from the pollution and climate that have stunted my professional growth here.
Do I say goodbye...or good riddance?
I'm not apt to look back on any epoch of my life in regret. I can always find the benefit from any experience. I've learned a lot about the world and myself in this place. I've stumbled on through this dark valley in my soul looking for my place, certain I'd never find it in darkness. I've learned to bear my trials in silence and with patience. I've learned to pray harder, cast my cares fully on God, and I've learned humility in a way I'd not expected.
I am a better person. I'll carry the past five years with me the rest of my life. And if I have learned from them, and can be a better person for my time here, then those five years won't be baggage. They'll be light as the ether, bearing me along my Path. If I don't learn, and store them in bitterness, then they'll weigh heavily on my shoulders, bearing me down, tiring my body, and slowing my progress.
Time to cast off the bitterness and move on.
I had wanted to break 22mph today. It didn't happen. I had a head wind and a belly full of pizza from my send- off lunch. Plus, I'm not in shape like I was back in October.
I did pull off a bona-fide Ramming Speed Friday though, clocking in right at 20mph.