If you were to ask me, six months ago, how I felt about Boulder and the thought of leaving, I would’ve expressed how much I wanted it. Be it New York City, Seattle or even 30 miles away in Denver, I would’ve wanted to get out of this town because I felt like I’d outgrown it.
I’d first fallen in love with Boulder when I came here, nearly two years ago. Back then, I only knew one route to campus from my first apartment. I had no idea what half the buildings were called and got lost in almost every single one I entered. My first football game was a blur, literally. I was sick as a dog and got dragged to the game by my roommates when I had never seen a football game in my entire life.
I’d also first fallen in love in Boulder. I remember the nights spent walking down streets to his apartment and back to mine together. Or the different places we’d get coffee together. Or the rooms in the library we’d pull late nights in. It seemed like every inch and corner of this town is reminiscent of the relationship I had with B. From the creek that flows through the city to the obscure sports bar with great wings, I was there with him. And so when it ended with B, I felt like I could hardly go anywhere without thinking of him. I resented this town, saying that it was overrated and immature.
But trotting down the streets of Denver last night with my bright green back pack after a meeting left me uncomfortable. It wasn’t that late in the night but because we’re about to enter the dead of winter, skies were dark by 6 p.m. I navigated through quiet streets and alleys, trying to find the quickest way back downtown. I had never felt so out of place. For once, fear was a real feeling for me. I could walk the streets of Boulder at 1 a.m. without the slightest feel of doubt, but not last night. I was afraid.
Sirens wailed in the background and my active imagination convinced me that I would quite possibly meet my predator if I took a wrong corner. Denver is not by far the most dangerous city in America but it was a city nonetheless and I wasn’t familiar with any of the streets or buildings.
I made it to the bus stop and never felt so relieved to be heading back to the comforts of the town I’ve grown to love. As I’m about to close this chapter of my life, I feel the urgency in preparing myself to say goodbye. To the quad in the middle of campus, historical Pearl Street, the rooms I’ve had.
Looking ahead, I see a blank future. It’s like staring into white space and stepping into the unknown. Being in school, everything was easier. My life revolved around schedules and grades. There was only one thing to do over the weekends and life just repeated itself. Sporting events were among the many perks I enjoyed and missing class carried no heavier consequence than just getting a lower participation score.
Graduating however, relinquishes me from all of that privilege. For once, my action could potentially impact others. So yes, you’re right. I am so scared. I’m scared of the towering buildings and shadows in alleyways. I’m scared of not knowing what my next step is, where I belong, if I’m good enough to even make it in a city.
But I also can’t stay, because staying, would only make me a coward.