The year is 2017.
I have just arrived, on a long and hot journey in my malfunctioning car, in Colorado. My new home, for the second time and final time.
The first time was a disaster. My ex-boyfriend, Toby, kicked me out of our living space to move in another woman and her kids. I had fond memories of the mountains, of finding my home, but all were laced with the painful memory of his betrayal and rejection of me.
But this time, I intend to make a new start. I pull into the gravel drive, stones shifting beneath my tires. An oak tree hangs its branches over the parking spot, and a little log is placed just so, as though a sitting spot for the neighborhood kids.
My sister runs at me, enveloping me in a hug. I haven’t seen her in over a month and it feels great to have her near again.
After inhaling the meal she makes me and making a run to the dispensary, I am on my own for the evening.
So I decide to explore and find a peaceful place to reflect on my future.
Under the railroad bridge, I find a tiny ledge that can only be accessed by pressing your body against a rock to inch close enough to the edge for a seat. My inner child comes out, and I hug the wall, thinking deeply about the phone in my pocket.
But I find my footing on the other side and sit. My legs dangle off the side, the muddy river flowing beneath them.
It is warm, but not hot. The dry air is foreign to my Florida skin, as is the wind wicking the sweat from my body. The sun presses her calming rays against my skin. I lean my head back against the concrete and sigh.
I inhale the scents of summertime: the sweetness of the wildflowers in the wind, the slightly stale scent of the river below me, the sun warming the grass and the weeds surrounding the bridge.
All is at peace.
I find serenity in nature. At that moment, my life was chaos. I had no job, had just moved across the country, and had no idea what direction my life would take, but just a few moments in a natural place helped me to find stillness.
I think back to this version of myself quite often. Before I met my partner of almost two years. Before I got the job at the vape shop. Before it all began to take shape.
There was a freedom in those days. I spent so much time in nature, exploring the areas I’d never seen before. I hiked almost every morning to find a spot to meditate with my hula hoop, headphones plugged into my ears.
I retreated into nature to find myself again. To redeem myself, after almost a year of soul-searching.
That last relationship had wrecked me. I thought I was healed, at least a little, when I made my journey out to Colorado. But it wasn’t until the mountains came into my view once more that I allowed myself to finally open up and really grieve for the end of that life, and to be overflowed with joy at a new one beginning.
Healing indeed summons strength, and nature provides the most powerful healing of all time.
These days, I’m stuck behind a desk more often than not, pouring my heart out through my fingertips. But all it takes it one glance outside, and I know that all will be alright.
I used to imagine this life, back in those days. Each morning, I visualized my perfect life, hoping to build the best possible future in the mountains, one that would overflow and erase the memory of my past.
I visualized a desk and a computer, my first desktop in a decade, positioned in front of a window that overlooked those mountains. I pictured a partner by my side, supporting me in my writing career.
And wouldn’t you know it? That fantasy came true.
Here I sit, typing away on my fancy desktop, at a desk in front of the window with, you guessed it, a mountain view. My boyfriend just left for work, and I’m doing work on my writing career, with his full support.
We often go hiking together and our favorite spot overlooks the entirety of the city. We sit there, hand in hand, inhaling the sights and smells of the world around us. The vastness of the plains stretch out to the east, while the hulking figures of the mountains surround us like a huddled family of geologic makings.
We sit together, in nature, and find peace.