After college, Nate and I moved to Houston and bought our first house in what was most definitely suburbia. I used to go jogging on the streets of my neighborhood, and think of how I would be so much more hip if I lived downtown. I wanted to sell our big house with a pool and buy a cool townhome in Memorial Park or the Heights, and spend my weekends jogging around the Rice University Campus and hanging with friends at trendy restaurants and bars.
I thought that this would make me happy. I thought this was the type of life you should have when you’re only 22.
I wasn’t very honest with myself.
Seriously, what a joke. The person that I really am used to mourn every night that I couldn’t see the stars in Houston because of the humidity and pollution. I used to run at sunset on a deserted country road on the outskirts of our neighborhood, because it was the closest I could get to some open space and peace. I didn’t feel like myself for two years because I couldn’t sleep with the windows open and wake up to the smell of cut grass and rain. Sometimes I would jump in the car and drive and hour out of town just to remind myself that the world wasn’t all strip malls and highways.
I only lasted two years in Houston, and then I moved back home to Colorado. It wasn’t because I had a boring house in the ‘burbs and a job I didn’t like – it was because so much of who I am is wrapped up in wildness and the great outdoors.
I’m just not a city girl. I’m old enough now to be honest with myself about that.
I think I could live downtown for about week, after which time I would start craving the wide open spaces and red dirt trails that are home to me.
Being outdoors reminds me that there’s a whole world out there. Outside of the little sphere of my own life, the seasons continue to change and the stars continue to shine. The world goes on outside of my own drama.
When I step out the door and go for a hike, a trail run, a bike ride, or a backpacking trip, it’s because I have to. Sometimes I just need to be grounded. I need to be brought back down to reality. I need to be reminded that there’s lot of beauty in the world that we take for granted, and that none if it has anything to do with me.
And that’s why I paint. Because I want other people to see what I see, when they otherwise might not notice.
It’s as simple as that.