Monday, August 27, 2007

summer 2007 (boulder)

you know, so much of this blog is meant for my friends and family in the usa, so that they can see what we are up to across the pond. but this entry is really dedicated to my european friends who have heard so much about boulder, that sunny paradise in my rocky mountains. "the sun shines 300 days a year there!" i exclaim to them. "but, when does it rain?" they ask me confusedly. so, for all of you who have been wondering about this hippie utopia that i call home, this entry is for you...

i spent much of my time this summer in boulder, colorado. i kind of hopped around when i was in colorado -- sometimes i was in boulder for a few days, sometimes i was in colorado springs with my in-laws (colorado springs is about a 2 hour drive south), so some of these pictures are not quite in the right order because i was not in boulder for a whole consecutive amount of time.

fortunately when i was in the usa i was able to pick up several shifts at a health club where i used to work. before i moved out here, i worked very part-time at flatiron athletic club as a massage therapist. mostly i would pick up other people's shifts if they were sick or on vacation, and it was a good arrangement because i was able to focus on my own private massage business in the meantime. but i knew i wouldn't be able to stay in america for 2 months unless i was able to pick up some work while i was there -- so i emailed my old boss (who totally rocks) and asked him if i could sub a few shifts for july. which, to my great relief, he agreed to. i was able to work i think about 6 or 7 shifts while i was there, and i was able to fill most of those spots with a lot of my private clients from when i owned my business there. it was so flattering to be asked to come back for such a temporary stint and for so many of my old clients to clear their schedules to see me (especially because several of them had already found new massage therapists to work with since i've moved away).

other logistical stuff: i stayed with friends in boulder, which was fun but also hard because i didn't have a home to go home to. boulder is home to me, and to be there (most of the time without adam), sleeping in someone else's bed and eating someone else's food just felt really weird to me. it made it seem more lonely in a way, i guess. but i'm thankful for all the hospitality to be sure.

i did SO MUCH when i was in boulder and i can't even think of what to talk about next... farmers' market, i guess. the farmers' market is one of my favorite things in the whole city. it's seasonal, so it's closed in the winter, but when it's open it's well worth it. everything EVERYTHING there is organic and locally grown. which means that though you can't find a mango there in the winter (like you can at the market here in hengelo), you can find tomatoes, basil, corn, greens, beets, peaches, etc. when they are in season and taste the best. and it's all locally grown, so you're supporting local farms. there's also a few stands there that sell arts and crafts, goat cheese, and hormone-and-antibiotic-free-range meat from local ranches. i rode my sweet sweet cruiser bike (her name is tinkerbell) down there every time i went. (tinkerbell was in storage at my in-laws' house and i brought it up to boulder so i could ride her around town. i reallllly missed my bike.) i also ate a ton of food from the vendors there, my favorite being the dumplings from "the dumpling lady", the homemade tamales with green chili, and the fresh-squeezed lemonade. (oh, how i miss lemonade out here in holland. but fortunately lemons at the market here are super cheap so i just make my own, which is better for me anyway.) there were live performers there, usually playing bluegrass or some other type of folk music. so i'd get my food and either listen to the music in the food court, or i'd walk across to the park and sit in the shade, having a picnic with my neighbors and their children. it's so beautiful.

another one of my favorite things was walking in chautaqua park. chautaqua is this gorgeous park on the edge of town with miles and miles of free walking trails. which brings me to a tangent here, but not really: back in the day (i think 1960's or 70's), boulder established a green-zone around the city. the residents at that time began to see the sprawl that was taking over other cities in the area, especially colorado springs and denver. and they realized that the whole reason for living there (namely, the nature and the mountains) were going to be inaccessible or worse, inexistent, if they didn't do something soon. it would be impossible to hike in the foothills of the rockies if everyone built their houses there, because you'd be trespassing on their manicured lawns instead of hopping over boulders and through sage brush. so they established a zone around the city in which no one could build. they established these areas as free parks for anyone to use and created the open space and mountain parks department to oversee and care for these areas. and every year, there is almost always an item on the ballots for the residents to vote on, to see if we want to raise our taxes once again to pay for the maintenance of these spaces and to purchase even more land, to preserve even more space to enjoy in the future. and every year, it always passes. the downside of this being that boulder is an extremely expensive city to live in because the space is quite limited within the city limits. but it's well worth it, to live in a beautiful and small city like that. quite literally, you can walk 20 minutes west from any point in town, and be stuck in the middle of the mountains. it's just that great. this picture is a good example of the green-zone around the city: notice how the trees and the green from people's yards just ends when you get to the foothills. that's the city limit, and that boundary there is most likely open space for people to enjoy for hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, maybe even camping...

another great feature about boulder is the boulder creek, which is this gorgeous little mountain stream that cuts through the heart of the city. there are literally miles and miles of paved walking- and biking-trails that follow along the creek. it's just known as "the creek path" to locals. when adam and i lived in boulder, we lived just a stone's throw away from the creek path, and we'd almost always ride bikes along the path on a regular basis, either going down to the farmers' market (which was also near the path) or to get downtown for shopping or entertainment.

boulder has one of the prettiest downtowns i've ever seen, right along the pearl street mall. i think i like it so much because it's so european in so many ways. how many other american cities do you know of where there is a pedestrian-only area, a space used on a daily basis not only for shopping and dining, but also for gathering for community events (like festivals, art shows, or the boulderite's favorite, political protests)? i spent many evenings down there, enjoying the street performers (especially the bluegrass band and the singing cowboy who always stands near the bookstore on busy nights), eating sushi, and just generally soaking in the atmosphere of my adopted hometown.

and boulder is a great place to nourish your spirit. besides being in a beautiful setting, there are many opportunities there to explore your spiritual side. i revisited my old church, the unitarian universalist church of boulder on several occasions, and i felt like i never left. i was welcomed back by everyone there. it felt GOOD. and when it was time to recite our covenant, or sing "spirit of life" (which we usually always sing), i was still able to do it by heart. oh! i also made it up to the starhouse one evening to enjoy a "gong bath." (omg, what a hippiedippie thing to do!) it was this dude with a gong, playing it for about an hour, with about 50 people laying on the floor, being washed over by this sound and energy. it's more of an energy healing than a concert, i guess. but it was really really wonderful, and something i had never done before, and i even bought a cd so i could do my yoga and meditate to it. i also did this cool "spirit doll" workshop, which one of my former massage teachers (and now my beautiful friend) was leading. we got together on a sunday morning and made dolls out of socks and buttons and feathers and earrings and scraps of cloth and bundles of herbs and who knows what else. i made a doll which turned out to be a little boy doll, made out of children's socks. it wasn't what i had intended to make, but i think spruitje was guiding me that morning. i keep my doll on my bedside table here at home now, and when spruitje's room is finished he'll probably move into there.

and finally, no trip to boulder is complete without a good massage. or six. i was there for a month and i received 6 massages. half from therapists at FAC (who are some of the best therapists in the state), and half from students at the boulder college of massage therapy, the school from where i graduated. the student clinic is amazing, and reasonably inexpensive given what quality massages you can get there. so now my body is in good shape again for a little while, and my pregnancy-waddle walk is gone (i started waddling at around 2 months if you can believe it, because my hips were so tight!)... for now, at least. i was definitely a little piggy. i need my massages!

okay, i think that's it. now that i've totally talked up boulder, i hope you don't think that i don't also like it here in hengelo. because i really do. i realize now, after spending two months back in the usa, that my life here and my life there are really not all that different after all. all of last year, i was satisfied here, but not necessarily happy. i only saw the differences between "here" and "there." the food, the people, the language, the climate... it was all so different. and weird. and i wasn't sure if i really liked it or not. it just wasn't "home" to me. but i see now that the things i love to do in boulder, and the things i enjoy about america, are many of the things that i have here in the netherlands. i was really pleasantly surprised, when i came back to hengelo after this holiday, to discover that i have a lot of friends who sincerely missed me while i was away, that i have massage clients who i genuinely enjoy, i have a beautiful house, a great husband, favorite bars, foods that i crave, a daily routine... i realize now that "here" and "there" are not so far apart (both logistically and emotionally) as i once thought they were. and i can honestly say that i'm happy here. i love the people, i can speak a little bit of the language, the food is good (i really missed good croissants when i was in america! they're hard to find!), the weather is "cozy" (i used to think it was just dreary... but now i see it as cozy), the landscape is like nowhere else i've ever lived... it is beautiful, and scenic, and lovely to be here. i wish i would have seen it sooner, but i guess i just needed to step away from it to get a different perspective. and all things considered, i'm actually glad to be back home.

1 comment:

teresa said...

i`m very happy to read, in your conclusion, that you`re contented to be back in hengelo.
sometimes `trying to throw your arms around the world` feels exhausting. but sometimes it is the most natural thing to do.

you know what i love about boulder? the Star House. and HAPA SUSHI. and, oh yeah, all that other stuff you mentioned.