That Time I Decided to Drop Everything and Move to Denver, pt. 2

I have officially been in Denver for one whole month. Reckon it’s time for some updates.

Strangely enough, a shit ton has happened in only my first four weeks here and a lot of it has been a certain type of internal change and growth in myself that is exactly the reason I decided to make a move. I’ll save that for later in the post because it’s not as exciting as the list of awesome ACTIVITES I’ve been doing since I got here!

Clearly I spend a great deal of my time on my bicycle and the biking culture in Denver is amazing. I can leave my doorstep and go in any direction for just about as far as I want to ride. I could bike to other states literally straight out of my backyard and a good deal of it be on dedicated paths– no traffic or cars to deal with at all. That’s pretty rad. My most notable rides so far have involved a lot of hill climbing (who knew!?) with the beautiful reward of some fantastic mountain views or deep red-rock canyons surrounding me. In addition to some great routes, the driver-cyclist relationship in Colorado is WAAAAY more chill than in Atlanta. I was joking to someone that in Atlanta (and many places in the southeast) you kind of learn to ride not just defensively but actively aggressively because drivers don’t give much of a shit about cyclists or our safety so sometimes you just have to ride extra hard to kind of affirm your place on the road. It was something that caused me endless frustration. Here I look like a complete jackass riding like that. Cars and bikes are, for the most part, cool with one another around Denver and anywhere I have traveled to ride to far. It’s awesome to ride around a big city and actually be given proper space without being honked at or buzzed ever. I can’t wait to get a mountain bike and get out on some of the off-road trails out here. I have yet to find a group of bike (and beer) enthusiasts that is anything close to the folks I associate with around Atlanta, but I am not giving up! Atlanta spoiled me in that arena and I am going to be picky.

Outside of biking, I have also been hiking my face off. Last weekend I rocked four 14,000-foot peaks on a seven mile trail that took about five hours of straight uphill hiking. My ass is still on fire, but I now have FOUR 14ers under my belt and feel like I have been officially initiated into Colorado outdoor culture. I have also been rafting and hiking plenty with Addy and Chevy. Any day that I don’t do something outside feels like a day wasted. Addy calls that “Extreme Sports Anxiety” and it’s real! It’s like FOMO for the outdoors! I legit felt guilty the one day I didn’t go run or hike or bike even though it was pouring rain all day. We still managed to have some perfectly legal indoor fun though.

Having Addy here is a blast. We do a lot of stuff outside together and she knows Colorado really well after all her time here. I appreciate being able to glean off of some of her knowledge and experience on a lot of things I wouldn’t have known by myself. I also always imagined us at some point in our twenties being able to just be young adults having fun together… I finally get to do that! Addy’s pretty much my best friend in life and even with our occasional natural sister tiffs, we love each other like crazy and there’s nobody I have a better time with. Having her just an hour or two away is invaluable and has made this transition way easier for me.

I spent a lot of time in my first few weeks solidifying a job. I had been in contact with many local gyms before I moved and was pretty much secured at a few but I wasn’t sure until I arrived what was going to work best logistically. Once I got here, serendipity stepped in and a really fancy schmancy gym happened to be hiring way closer to my apartment. Fancy schmancy gym interviewed me, auditioned me, and offered me more money than I have ever been offered to ride an indoor bicycle and yell at people to do push-ups. It was a no-brainer. I also decided that if I was moving on up the payscale ladder, I might as well move on up the personal trainer/fitness knowledge ladder to back it up. I re-certified as a trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which is sort of the gold standard of the industry and a very well-regarded degree to have (also very hard to study for!). I passed the exam and now they want to give me even MORE money! Smoking dope I tell you. I just wrapped up my first week at the job and it is AMAZING. The other trainers are absolute pros and I am learning a ton from them already. The gym offers us a whole lot of room for professional advancement via a wide range of certifications and workshops on different equipment and modalities, nutrition and diet, and exercise physiology. I can’t wait to get some more certifications and learn about parts of this industry that I haven’t explored before.

That kind of nicely segues into the more personal growth side of this last month. Getting that ACSM certification is just the latest in a list of things I have done to better myself personally over the last few weeks. It has been a long time since I pushed myself this hard to do things differently and change old habits, but it has been a nonstop process since I moved. One of the biggest changes is that I am writing again. Writing and singing songs again. The universe basically handed me a writing partner my first week here and I have never written so naturally with anybody. He is a talented musician and after only five jam sessions, we have five original songs. That is insane. I don’t want to talk too much about that because Atlanta taught me to keep my art close to my chest, at least until it’s the right time. But know that I am writing, singing, and recording more than ever before and I love the sound that we are creating so effortlessly.

Though songwriting again is probably what I am most excited about, I have also gotten back to a type of internal, self-exploratory writing that I haven’t done in a while. I haven’t examined myself closely in a long time and that’s dangerous. Being here without (m)any friends and a lot of time to myself, I am kind of re-familiarizing myself with Me. I’m looking a little more critically at the parts of my personality that I am not happy with and actually making an effort to change them. One of the biggest issues I have had in the past has been to latch on/obsess over certain things and really get in a rut if I couldn’t fix or figure something out. That mindset does nothing but bring me down. It’s fucking hard to change that channel though and I know it’ll be a process. But I’m legitimately reminding myself to just let shit go and keep moving forward. Obsessing has burned bridges, torn down relationships, and lost me plenty of moments of happiness in the past. Why go on doing that to myself? So that’s been a needed area of personal growth and is a continuous process of monitoring and editing inner dialog.

And lastly just on a very simple level, people out here are very kind to each other. It is forcing me to just be more kind. I don’t think I am mean, but I do tend to be sarcastic and sharp if I feel insecure in any way. There’s no room for that out here. First of all, making friends means just being open and being nice. But more importantly, I have felt just a greater sense of “there’s no time for anything petty right now, I have to go hike/bike/ski/run/snowboard/raft/kayak” among the people I have met so far. I have taken mental notes on how Addy and her boyfriend talk to other people and interact with strangers, and it’s really pretty cool. People are just chill and respectful for the most part. No one has on a front or is pretending to be something else. I have only seen one pair of lens-less glasses on a skinny jean boy. Just one. People dress and act and speak exactly as they are. Many other people are here for reasons similar to mine, so I am far from alone in “figuring things out” or leaving behind a lot to take a big chance. Hearing other peoples’ stories is really inspiring me and encouraging me that I am gonna be okay.

There are days when I really miss Atlanta. There are moments when I ache for my friends and wonder why I left. Then the next moment I am watching the sun duck behind the Rockies and turn the sky pink and purple, and I remember that even my first year in Atlanta was hard– I missed DC and all of my college friends. If I went on to create such a fan-fucking-tastic life for myself in ATL, I can do it here too. Learning to be kinder, truer to myself, and consciously, continually bettering myself can only help. As far as I’ve come in my first month, it can only keep getting better.

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