It's only been three months, but it already feels like years since I boarded the plane in Shanghai and stepped out at Denver International Airport. Time's a funny thing, expanding and shrinking, and all we can do is just keep living and try not to worry about it.
I knew that exchanging a city of 20 million for a town of 2,000 would be a big change, and it was, but not in the ways that I expected. I certainly did not miss the crowds, and so far have been quite content to swap skyscrapers for mountains, and clouds of smog for fresh air. I do miss some of the delicious food, but hey, I'm still an American, after all. Give me a steak or a burger and I'm happy.
It's the sounds. From my apartment, I can hear the train go by, but I hardly notice it. My ears are used to filtering out machines and industrial sounds. One night, however, early on, I was sitting in my chair reading when a strange sound suddenly cut across my consciousness. My head snapped up. What the heck was that? I waited, perplexed, until it repeated and I realized what it was - a cow mooing from a nearby field. The roaring train I hardly noticed, but the sound of a farm animal stopped me mid-sentence.
Another surprising event occurred when I went to get a cup of coffee. Entering the Grand River coffee shop in Granby, I walked in on a discussion of Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis." Awesome, I thought, and continued chatting with the woman behind the counter, Jill, as I ordered. When I told her I'd moved here from Shanghai, I expected the usual comments ("how interesting," "what was it like," etc.)
"Oh, ni hao!" she exclaimed.
It took me a moment to register the Chinese words for "hello."
"Ni shuo zhongwen ma?" I asked. (Do you speak Chinese?)
She did. What followed was a great conversation about our mutual experiences with the country and its language. I should have known that physical distance means very little nowadays, and I marvel at how every single day can surprise you, no matter what corner of the world you're living in.
To be honest, I've had fun re-acclimatizing to American life, and a lot of that has happened in Grand County. Just a few examples:
• Chatting with Front Rangers and locals alike at the Winter Park Beer Festival
• Hiking, boating, and enjoying the magnificent scenery of Grand Lake
• Having drinks at The Library with friends
• Going to the movies at the Foundry in Fraser
• Antique-ing with my parents and sister in Tabernash
• Sitting in on School Board meetings and witnessing firsthand the dedication of educators in the community
• Driving by the stunning scenery of Byers Canyon and surrounding areas
• Conversations on all topics at the Sky-Hi office
While it's been great, the time has come to move on again. Starting next week I'll be working as a reporter for the Summit Daily in Frisco. Fortunately, it's not far, and I'll certainly be visiting.
So I wanted to say thanks to everyone, and especially to my colleagues, who have made these past months genuinely enjoyable. I see now why people come here, and why they stay. Thanks a lot, Grand County - it's been grand.