Last March, I was settling into my new apartment complex in the dead center of Fort Collins, Colorado (although in all my five months of living there, I was never close to settled). However, it was a new adventure that gave me hope for my future dreams. I was under the impression I’d be nourished by an artful way of living surrounding me in all directions, expanding my creative horizons and increasing my health.
What I didn’t expect was that the opposite would occur. While I was gaining irreplaceable knowledge about nature and health from my six-month herbal studies course, my physical and spiritual self were quickly declining. As for my emotional state, I remember being withdrawn from any that might have arisen. I couldn’t really feel anything of my emotions any time I was on my feet, being one step out of my original roots– my home city, Cheyenne.
The only time I ever recognized my emotional state in Fort Collins, the city of adventure and liberty, was when I was flying. More specifically, when I was flying through the dark and couldn’t see my tracks.
On my road bike, I felt free. Scents of the setting sun, the evaporating pond, the wilting grasses, and the windswept willows blew into my nostrils, acting as my oxygen. These scents were distinctly unique to this city I’d always dreamed of living in. Cheyenne’s air simply didn’t have as much dampness to it; it wasn’t quite so heavy nor so warm. It wasn’t quite as dense with mosquitos and fruit flies, either. There was a sweet sadness to Fort Collins’ air, but it was the sweetness I did appreciate.
I’ll choose to remember the times dew stuck to red vines grazing silver gates, when I flew down to the Poudre River and sat with the herbs growing there. On occasional June nights, my roommate and I got lost riding bikes in the dark through a neighborhood with only tree species for street names, and we would fly down Lemay at midnight in jean shorts, exhilarated to be riding so close to the lake dazzled with yellow lights that seemed to stretch out forever. I’ll remember the groundhogs grazing hills full of burdock underneath a silhouette of street smog during late afternoons. But I also flew uphill to the base of the mountain on the verge of summer, when apple blossoms were blooming and I saw hues of green in every direction I gazed upon, spotted with pastel blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows.
Getting lost was only spiritually reviving when I was on my bike. I discovered hidden paradises that way: a green fairytale jungle in the middle of a random neighborhood, a Hawaiian-esque hostel/ yoga retreat, and an artsy old blue door draped with ivy, for example. Such colorful images filled the gap in my soul where love was missing.
Love didn’t mean much to me there. It was the scents and the scenes that kept me going, which are memorable and worthy of writing so I can account at least some good of those five months which, in reality, I spent lost in a land where my heart wasn’t present.
®Camille Garcia, 2016