“I work for Lutheran Family Services.” I mention this casually and matter-of-factly to the librarian, though on the inside I’m bubbling with excitement to be able to say those words.
Adjusting to “the real world”- to the work force, to independence, to a new city, to leaving things behind- is exciting.
In a recent Friday formation (a time we set aside each Friday to spend in community discussing and learning an assortment of topics) we did an exercise in which we were to rank our personal values. We started with a massive pile of note cards with values written on them and eventually narrowed and ranked our top ten. One of my top ten was “beauty” in the sense of being able to appreciate the beauty in the things around you. The first month here in Denver has felt slow in a wonderful kind of way, full of exciting firsts and new experiences. My intentionality and mindfulness in engaging these experiences seem to slow down time, allowing me to truly appreciate the beauty all around me.
In many ways, the adjustment from school to work is liberating. There are things I miss, of course: my family and friends, my dog, a home on a college campus, being in the SEC during football season, and the most flexible schedule I’ll likely ever have. Yet, when I get home from work I am finally able to put the work on hold – it is finished until tomorrow. I finally get to pay attention to myself, a person for whom I didn’t leave much space in my *proudly* busy college schedule. Instead, I now go to concerts in the middle of the week, meet friends for drinks, put up my hammock in the front yard, and eat dinner around the table with my roommates every single night. And I like to reserve my weekends for the mountains.
In addition to the novelty of this free time and independence, there’s also the novelty of living in a city. I’ve never been able to step into my residential street and see the heart of downtown just blocks away. Never have I been able to walk or bike anywhere I wanted or needed to go. Never could I see three of my favorite bands within the span of two weeks. There’s also a uniqueness to this city for which I already feel entitled to be proud. The city is green- not only in the bike lane/composting kind of way- but there are trees lining streets where I wouldn’t expect to find them. Long east bound roads like 6th Avenue, whose huge green median lined with trees reminds me vaguely of New Orleans and makes me feel at home. Huge green parks dot the map and a bike trail runs along a creek through the middle of the city. The city itself also has the perfect situation of being able to have all the benefits of a city coupled with the opportunity for adventure and respite right down the road. I take to the mountains as often as possible – especially as fall is beginning to show its colors. Denver is also home to some really nice people. Though coming from Mississippi I have a pretty tough-to-reach bar for friendliness, the people whom I have met in Denver have really stepped up to surpass my expectations.
I can’t ignore that with all change come challenges. Though exciting, newness often corresponds with a loss in some sense of the word and I do not intend to minimize that part of the experience. But right now things are going pretty damn well.