You Can Take the Girl Out of Colorado / by Sophie Schor

 But you can't take Colorado out of the Girl

 But you can't take Colorado out of the Girl

I've been back home in Denver for the last week; it's been a trip. I told myself that I would keep it short in order not to open Pandora's box of existential crises that plague a first-world problem filled world.  Where is home? Where are my roots? Where do I belong, where do I go next? Is career more important than family at the moment? Is Tel Aviv home? Is Denver home? Is some new, as of now, unexplored city home? Yet, a week doesn't seem to stiffle those wonderings; rather it's intensified and processing has to happen at light-speed. 

Denver is still the perfect space to recharge with the clarifying mountain air. I've never fully appreciated towels that have been through the dryer and are fluffy clouds that envelope you as you get out of the shower. Or instant hot-water that does not depend on the sun or the flick of a switch 30 minutes before you plan to take a shower. I overhear two high school girls in my favorite coffeeshop discussing my favorite literature teacher. Everything has the taste of nostalgia as I drive around this town which is growing and changing faster than I can keep track of. I glance at the Ha'aretz update about someone being stabbed, I turn it off. Just for a moment.

Yet, everywhere I turn, I run into the Middle East.  

I listen to the news, and every other interview is translated from Arabic. I go to my favorite old thrift-store and it's next to Zam-Zam Middle Eastern Market. I show up at St. Mark's coffee-shop in Denver, and my favorite barista is wearing a shirt with the name of my favorite Denver bar in Arabic. I meet with our sister organization in Denver, they can't wait to see what we're doing in Jerusalem. I share the stories I want to produce for radio, I pour more coffee for my friends. I describe the regulars who come into our coffee-shop in Tel Aviv, I try to translate idioms from Hebrew into English and fail. 

A helicopter flies overhead while we're in the mountains, but it is simply surveying the area and keeping an eye out for avalanches. It turns into a calming background noise. I hear choppers in Israel, and my heart begins beating faster as I wonder what has happened. Here, I nod to the giant insect shape in the sky and feel comforted. We drive through a tunnel that cuts through a mountain and it simply connects point A to point B, instead of Zone A to Zone C (unlike the Gilo Tunnels on Highway 60). I marvel at man's determination to shape nature rather than how it seems to be human nature to oppress others. I take a breath, and find I can't breathe. But this time, it's not due to fear or stress, but rather due to the high altitude. I crack a smile.

 

I saw my family, my dog, my best friends, and I felt my heart expand with love. I ate Mexican food till I was close to bursting, I drank the finest micro-brewed beer Denver has to offer, I bought new film for my camera, I found new bands, and now it's time to pack up again. I find that my heart has two homes, and that pull to be in one or the other will never go away. It feels good to be rooted in my rootlessness. Heading back to the Middle East and holding onto the Wild West. I'm Jaffa bound and I'm still figuring out how to pack snow in my suitcase...