Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Transplanted Local

Sometimes I think we (meaning Durangatangs) are living in some disconnected slice of heaven: a place that is so beautiful, so serene, that we forget that its only a town in a big ugly country with some big ugly problems.

For someone who has lived in some pretty ugly places (Costa Mesa & Hollywood, CA, Wynnedotte, OK, Bennington, VT), I can say Durango really is special, and we are damn lucky to be here. When the clutch goes out of my car in morning rush hour, or LB comes home from daycare with little toothmarks on her arms, or the dog tears his ACL and we can't afford surgery, its hard not to let some of that stress go just by looking up at Sharkstooth or Hog's Back, or walking through McElmo Canyon.

When I had a bad day in my hole-in-the-wall apartment in Hollywood, I looked outside and could see graffiti and crack-whores. When I was feeling ugly and fat, I had celebrity billboards staring back at me. Mountains never make you feel fat.

To be surrounded by constant natural beauty, lots of sunshine and fresh air, it really is no surprise why so many Southern Californians, Urban & Rural Texans, Seattlites, East Coasters, Midwesterners (well pretty much everyone who visits) are trickling into Durango more and more every year.

I have lived here for 13 years, which is not exactly a local (to the people who have been here for generations) but more people I meet, I find that I am no longer the one who has lived here the shortest time. Being part of a traveling family of vagabonds, I was always the kid who never knew my address on the first day of school, or my phone number, and got respective hell for it. But I think I've paid my dues to a certain extent, pumped money into the Durango service industry since I was 15, and I finally feel like a local. It's home to me.

After high school, as we watched people leave Durango for college, military, conservation corps, and general travel and job opportunities, the running joke was "Oh, they'll be back. Everyone comes back." Durango is kind of like crack in itself. People are addicted to it. They HAVE to have it. That's why so many people have $6 million 2nd homes and only spend 3 months out of the year there. THEY NEED those 3 months or else they go into Durango Withdrawl. Whatever.

Recently, I rode shotgun with my sister to Bellingham, WA for her ferry ride to Alaska. We stopped at my cousin's apartment in what they call the "Vail Valley." She works at the Marriot at Vail in Food Service, and lives in a 3 bedroom "Condo" with 2 other guys. What she pays for rent is NOT even funny (and I thought it was bad here), but the most disturbing thing about where she lives is that I could see a glimpse of Durango's future:
It's true we don't live right off the interstate the way they do, but with Telluride so close, and the celebrity run-off we acquire from them, I think in the next few decades, Durango is going to be one of "The places to be" in the country.

It's sad cause I love my town. And I don't feel completely validated in loving it cause I wasn't born here. And the hatred I feel towards developers, rich 2nd and 3rd home buyers, private-jet flying Texas Ski-Bunnies, is slightly hypocritical, isn't it? I mean, I was a transplant too, at one point. There is only so much natural beauty to go around, and who deserves to appreciate that? I'm afraid one day it will be a privilege for only those who can afford it.
After driving over 800 miles to Washington, I told my sister, "I don't that I saw any place as incredible as the drive from Durango to Vail."
My sister is a geology student, and her definition of "incredible" is based mostly on how rocks are formed. My opinion I know is biased.
She simply replied "Yeah, Colorado is a pretty special place."


KarmaTee said...

The hillside regulation discussion made the Denver Post... I moved to Durango from Denver last year, and I was first shocked at how little attention people in Durango pay to Denver, and now I am shocked at how everyone in Denver thinks the center of the universe is at I-70 and I-25. I am glad to be "outside" Denver for the first time in my life-- this is big coming from a Denver native. I feel like I got to Durango right as the party is ending. I'm right there with you about loving that I am here now, and hoping no one else will want to come. Also, re: grants. I am a nonprofit grant writer by trade. I have offices in Durango and Denver, and I would be happy to talk grant income with you or whoever over a cup of coffee sometime. Email me (Katie) at info@solsticenonprofits.com.

Anonymous said...


You are not a transplant anymore, you have the right to say you're a native. Anyways, you are right, we live in one of the best places I've found on Earth and I've travelled a ton too. It is expensive, but I think in the long run it's totally worth it.
Love ya!

P.S. Guess what I'm getting? VRoom Vroom. hehehe