Welcome. (I feel like I never greet you)
Hope your day is going swell. How’s mine? So thoughtful of you. So far it’s consisted of returning a luxurious Ford Focus rental car, buying a breakfast burrito, and carrying 3 months’ worth of clothing in two oversized suitcases. Gotta love when by-passers throw looks of pity your way. Yes, I’m aware this is too much luggage for my body to handle. Why they smile apologetically instead of helping me shuffle up flights of stairs? The world may never know.
I’ve been carrying my stuff all over for some time now following my forced graduation (sore subject I don’t want to talk about it). I traded in bags for brews, and began my post-grad career working for Anheuser Busch. Yes, the beer company. No, I’m not a “beer-girl.” I won’t ramble on about details of corporate life at AB, but long story short my first real person job involved packing up my life and moving across the country for three months of training. St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Virginia, Denver, Boulder, Aspen and Fort Collins, CO specifically. A ton of back and forth time zone changes and more plane tickets than I can count.
St. Louis, the birthplace of Budweiser and the start of this travel escapade. Go figure. First thing you need to know about St. Louis is grilled raviolis are a thing. A socially acceptable thing. A wake-up-and-eat-for-a-morning-snack kind of thing. You can find them pretty much anywhere and St. Louis humans are a little obsessed with them.
Another thing they love? Their arch. Obviously. The city is unbelievably flat and the arch serves as the only real landmark for outsiders like myself to figure out where the hell you actually are. First impression: Alright, I can live here a month. At first glance the city seemed a bit bland but I was always happy to notice how proud/in love St. Louis natives were with their city. Also perks of working for AB popped up left and right since the company virtually runs the city. Free concerts, free Cardinals tickets, free beer. Key word free. Over time, with the help of glorious late night food joints, cheap skyline cocktail bars, and glorious work friends, the city grew on me. For a “big city” with a population of a mere 320,000, it felt much more alive by the time September rolled around and I was packing the bags up again.
The next big move meant saying goodbye to the Lou and also to my AB program colleagues. August allowed us to explore St. Louis together but it was time to head out on our individual assignments across the U.S. and Canada. ~commence feels~ With placements ranging everywhere from Boston, to L.A., to Toronto, I was fortunate enough to score Denver, Colorado. Quite a switch up geographically. I left the flat, humid world of Missouri for the crisp Rocky Mountain, mile high city. Flash back to the anxiety gained from packing for that kind of climate change. Not pretty.
There was no warming up to Denver. It was beautiful and electric right from the get go. But combatting the loneliness was something I never fully mastered. Living by yourself in a new city without people you know teaches you a lot about what you’re comfortable with. Meeting new people at chill granola-y downtown bars? Comfortable. Sitting in a corporate housing unit staring at 4 white walls? Uncomfortable as hell. Depressing even. While watching football games and presidential debates solo (screaming at both don’t worry) was quite comical, I needed to spend most of my time doing anything and everything that wasn’t sitting home idle and consequently driving myself crazy.
Thankfully, with the help of a few friends of friends, I did just that. I explored downtown hot spots, bar hopped through the craft beer capital of the country, and sat under the stars for concerts at Red Rocks. Garden of the Gods was a scenic gold mine. I hiked to Aspen’s Cathedral lake at 12,000 ft and braced a windy evening at Maroon Bells. Exercise happened. I explored the campus of University of Denver, got evacuated out of a building at University of Boulder (because of a man with a machete look it up), and realized my love hate relationship with the song Closer. I fell in love with Denver’s picturesque views and met an unbelievable group of people along the way.
Full honesty, the feelings you grow to hold for Colorado can best be explained when you realize you actually have to leave. It means saying goodbye to sunsets that give Charlottesville, VA’s a run for their money. The realization you’re about to lose a daily dose of crisp, mountain air. And remembering little personal moments like getting goosebumps from spotting the first snow of the season line the mountains. Your mountains.
This uprooting, re-rooting, uprooting re-rooting game has taught me more than most experiences have thus far in my 22 years of life. That might sound silly, frankly I don’t care. When you travel alone, you change. Even the little trips bring something new to you.
As I board my flight back east for my permanent placement in New York, I can openly say that I’ll miss the travel. It brought a healthy dose of independence. One that in all fairness, I probably needed. If you have the opportunity to travel for work once you’re out in the real working word, give it a chance. Yeah, FOMO is real and you’ll find yourself missing certain people and places more than you ever thought you could. But those places aren’t going anywhere. You can visit people wherever they wonder off to. Go somewhere. Whether I was summiting Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins, or trying not to crash a rental car down the streets of Chicago, it was one hell of a journey. And it was perfect.
East coast… I’m coming back for ya.