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If My Gritty Ancestors Could Up and Flee Their Cozy Villages, Change Must Be in My DNA

December 25, 2021

“It’s time you found a new version of yourself.” The pronouncement cascaded from my wife’s lips like raging rapids. Nor was it the first time we had gone round and round on the delicate subject of uprooting ourselves from, as she put it, “this soul-crushing” existence outside Washington, DC. I had come to dread these exchanges more than the zigzagging lines at the grocery store.

As was the case with each of our earlier civilized sparring sessions on the subject, this scene from a happy marriage offered something of a subtext. This time out, however, I quickly sensed a more serious tone, and more focus that featured extra helpings of vitamin-enriched grit. Plus, there was no mention of what was showing on Netflix that night.

I mentally waded through this collection of data and boiled it down to a singular question: In her eagerness to move to a landlocked state, does that mean that our original dream of settling by the water would float out to sea? If Rehoboth Beach, DE was a sensible, close enough escape valve for Joe Biden, it should also be in our wheelhouse. (Okay, so we’ll never know what it feels like to pick up the phone and chat with Putin about Russia’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. Biden and us share a love of the sea. Isn’t that sort of the great leveler?)

I pressed the issue: “Aren’t we unabashed water people? We both have always been mesmerized by the verities of the sea, the shifting mood of the whitecaps, the swooping, feeding gulls. What’s in Colorado but subzero cold, a subpar football team, Subarus in front and behind you, and motionless peaks.”

She didn’t say a word until she did. “May I remind you,” she said brightly, “that you have never lived anywhere but a tiny patch of green, halfway between the North and South. May I remind you that clinging to your roots like a mealybug is not a good look.” By this time, her tenor had descended into sternness. “Aren’t you ready to live a more clutter free life?”

In fits and starts, I finally I became increasingly aware and appreciative of what my sage wife was preaching in her litany of sermons on the subject of change. I had reached a watershed moment; I had simply run of reasons. Weighing in with even one more tired reason would only have the effect of making me look even more desperately pathetic than I already was, if that was even possible.

Now, six months into our great adventure in not quite Denver and Boulder, I am more than reasonably content. I’ve met new friends in our community that’s to say, I’ve met new friends in our apartment community and at the Orthodox church we found to our liking. I can also go so far as to say the Realtor who has been generously and patiently taking us around to scout properties for sale is a friend. That speaks volumes.

“Look at it this way, Dad,” chimed in our son, an old soul whose wife is expecting their first child in February. “You left your fingerprints back in DC. Our family members are either dead, they’ve moved away or they aren’t speaking.” He went on about how all four of my Greek grandparents stepped off the boat at Ellis Island only to confront a strangely frigid new world.  “They were the brave ones. They arrived lost and threadbare. They were their own Greatest Generation.”

He left me with this metaphor that, in essence, shaped the thesis statement: “Think of your life as an Etch A Sketch, Dad. You twist the knobs. You have at it. Then you shake it up until it’s clear again.”

The other night, my wife bought me a Broncos cap. My affection for the beloved team was still a work in progress. I thought about returning it. But her logic wore off on me. It’s just a cap, after all, I reasoned. I wasn’t being disloyal, only embarking on a bit of westward expansion. Besides, at least the crew at Empower Field at Mile High aren’t saddled with a yawner of a name like the Washington Football Team.

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