An Ode to My Mountain Towns

The car hurtles me back into the folds of home past old mining towns, winding back into the Rocky Mountains. Climbing up Loveland Pass, these mountains sing to my soul like a siren’s sweet song. When I drive fast enough up these snaking roads, I go back in time as if the blurred snow and trees paint a picture of what this place used to be. That memory shreds and pulls my heart. These mountains will always be my home, but I can’t stand the sight of them anymore. They remain just a sour reminder, a shadow, of the magic places they used to be – the memory of a place full of childhood freedom and innocence.

Remember, I whisper to the white slopes, remember when the mountains were the only thing on our minds. The sun rays and the rain were the only thing that we felt.

We spent those days skipping stones into a wild river full of snow melt. My brothers caught fish triumphantly. Bloody knees and muddy faces sat amid wide grins on rosy cheeks. The laughter echoed in the colorful streets. The ice cream dripped over our small hands.

I grew up under these towering peaks, lost in the mysteries those mountains held under strange rocks and reflected into turquoise lakes.

The small towns that held the ski lifts, we grew together. As houses pushed their boundaries into the forest, my bones stretched against my skin. Both of us began to flirt with the chaos of the world that lay outside the simplicity and unclouded purity that youth held us in.

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As we both grew we changed, no longer isolated and innocent from the real world. The past began to turn into memories. Mornings watching the sun crawl over the peaceful town amidst echoing snores turned into waking up to strangers shouting on Friday nights. My grandmother’s voice calling us back from the fields turned to dodging the Texan drawling hikers. Even the starry skies dulled with pollution.

Life began to leave its story on our surfaces with memories amassing on our skin behind a growing bouquet of scars. We gathered our battle wounds as we fought to keep some part of us away from this new world: a war to stop the money from changing you and a war to stop society from changing me.

We would lose both battles, and it would break us into skeletons of those early days. We left behind a raw and rugged truth.

We both morphed into a pretty face who wore makeup sometimes and entertained society’s finest with fancy restaurants. We slipped heels on every Friday night and as the dirt roads turned into asphalt my flowery outfits turned into skin tight black dresses. We were growing up into what society wanted us to be.

Long hair twisted into the wind around new curves and pretty new street faces with their new shapes. It seduced others to us, and we lived.

The streets echoed with stranger’s drunken laughs and hand prints. My hollow bones did too as they shook inside my body, marking the end of childhood.

And the old ones, the locals, grumbled, “she’s losing her way.” They wanted to return to the days of empty streets, untrodden mountains covered in wildflowers, playing in the dirt, returning home covered in mud and full of fairy tales.

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The clocks ticked and the globe turned and those days fell far behind us, but we kept living. We didn’t care about the precious moments built of make believe and wooden cabins that fell into the past.

Big money began buying you up piece by piece, and I sold my dreams to a force-fed recipe of portrayed success.

Our days were no longer peaceful because we burned bright with a hunger to consume the bigger world.

During long nights filled with drugs, we would fall into a haze. We both need something to get by because reality was sometimes a little too much. So you opened new shops covered in green leaves, and I let my lungs burn with the smoke.

Boys fell in love with us, and we almost just almost loved them back. These new people thrilled and hypnotized us with the possibility in which life swelled.

And the thrill was enough for a long time, but it was empty of meaning. It took from us without giving back.

Others came in awe of our beauty, but they never stayed. We were wild enough to give them a break from their reality and they paid in gold for it.

We tried to fit into society, but part of us was just too wild.

Some stayed – they fell in love with the pretty masks, not the soul beneath. The greedy wanted you to stay fake, something about the green that filled their banks. The minute I stuck out of their box, my teachers slammed it shut.

And this is when our stories start to diverge.

As I flew down your skirts of white, grinning pearly smiles full of powder, you stopped listening to the mountains that you flanked. The crags that use to hold us close as we grew up.

All of sudden, when I tried to escape back into your arms of paradise, only the chaos in of society’s money and greed confronted me. I couldn’t give up my wild, but you sold it away happily.

While you sold your soul, I desperately tried to hold on to mine. I kept it far away from the late nights and cheap highs. I tried because I loved you, and I remembered who we learned to be.

Or I used to love you. I loved the You that lived by those mountain’s creed. You must have forgotten the lessons we learned from those wild years of our youth.

Now, you exploit the forests and beauty that taught you the truth of existence. Now thousands come falling for you head over their loud mouths. They fill your sacred cathedrals with their trash and good times. So many of them you probably don’t even remember that laughing girl that fell in love with you so many years ago.

The tourists don’t know your heart like I do. You loved that wide-eyed girl from your blue sky down to your jagged granite. We were just two wild spirits twirling through the Rocky Mountains.

You lost your wild somewhere between the plastic smiling signs, cha-chings, and fur coats, and now I can’t let you take mine.

So, my dearest old Colorado, I must say farewell. You aren’t who you used to be.

Sometimes on my Friday nights, I sit drunk and stoned thinking about the love affair we once had. The black dresses sit gathering dust in my closet, but your streets barely hold a memory of our simple innocence. You are drenched in designer shops and tourist junk. Sometimes I catch myself looking for your soul, but the big world smothered it.

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So North I go looking for the rugged and raw truth you’ve forgotten before you could finish teaching me all of it. But like any old lover, I’ll always be chasing your ghost.

I’ll look for your familiar ridges and curves in every range. I’ll measure each mountain against your heaven-dipped peaks. I’ll wish each forest I walk turned as golden as yours. I’ll look for another place to tease the magic out of me like you could. And I’ll never stop wishing that every sunset and sunrise carved the sky as beautifully as Colorado does.

I wish for all the wild to return to your bones and the freedom to flow through your veins like it once did.

Even if you have forgotten your heart, I never will.

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