Walking through Boulder today, I felt like a regular person. I looked like a regular person. If I saw me, I would think I had a job. I feel like I'm pretending to be a regular person. But then I start to wonder, what is a regular person anyway? I realize I'm finally starting to enjoy the freedom unemployment brings. Just walking alone with my thoughts and smiling at strangers. This is living life.
"The meaning of life is to make life meaningful." - A.C. Grayling
Wandering through Boulder's Central Park toward downtown from our retro motor inn, leaves squishing through slushy snow, I could barely open my eyes in the blinding sun. Yet I was bundled in layers with freezing ears. Winter's icy brightness. Our motel is cozied into the mountain, and its name apt: Foot of the Mountain. It feels like we're buried in, especially with heavy snow clumped all over the land.
Boulder has a reputation of high maintenance, silver-spoon hippies. The last time I was here was twenty years ago when I was fifteen and fresh out of North Dakota. It seemed like a wonderland that time and I wished I could go to college here. This time it feels more commercial and more like a regular American town. I suspect Boulder's changed, but likely I've changed more.
Boulder's predictable in many ways: the residents' appearance (dreads, earrings, messy hair), consumer possibilities (outdoor stores, orthopedic shoes, energy field readings). And not so much in other ways: boring repetitive building styles, quiet back streets, exceptionally friendly residents.
I wandered into coffee shops, searching for the perfect cup. (I'm still hunting.) Stopped into the end of the Occupy Boulder meeting and met quiet, articulate, non-violent people of all ages. On the way home, I saw art through a massive windowed building and walked up to discover it was the public library, where they also hold movie screenings, GED classes, and more. It's apparent where the values lie in this community, and I feel an affinity for its residents.
In the library, I met a poet who'd lived in San Francisco and Kalispell. She gave me her number and, feeling drawn to this kindred spirit, I promised to call her for coffee later in the week. Flushed out of the library into the brisk cold, I scurried home to our little pine-walled room, but not before a few residents arriving home could say hello to me.
Traveling and unemployment have a way of reminding me what is important: taking time to breathe in life as it is offered to me.