Thursday, January 7, 2010

Go west, young man

I am 22 and have made the decision to move back to California, leaving my roommate and friends in Colorado. I have worked as a ski lift operator to get a free season pass to the resorts and as a computer geek managing digital photos and property layout designs for a real estate appraiser. After a lot of soul searching I decide to hunt for a “real” job in the California tech industry, which will allow me to propose to my girlfriend with some small measure of confidence that I could actually provide for her.

I had formed a friendship with someone my age that was eager to go with me to California to be my roommate (I'll call him E). The day before we start the road trip heading west he tells me that he has changed his mind – he wants to go with me to check out California for a short time but is coming back to team up with the roommate that I am leaving. He also lets me know that they all think that going back to my home state and settling down with my teenage sweetheart is a backwards move in my life journey.

I’m feeling pretty betrayed and despondent.

I am parked in Glenwood Springs waiting for E to get off work so we can start the long drive. Planning on being confined with him for a huge chunk of time, and having a few hours to kill, I decide to walk off some of my frustration. Picking a direction at random, I start marching.

I pass a sign that says “Historical Monument” and without a better plan, adjust course to where it’s pointing. I trod on, following signs up a hill that gets red mud on my shoes, but I don’t care. When I get to the top of the hill, my haze of emotion fades and I realize I am looking at a graveyard. Obviously, someone famous must be buried here, but there is no one around and no obvious markings so I wander around reading the gravestones. Eventually, I find it.

Doc Holliday. I don’t know much about him besides what I know from the somewhat recent move Tombstone where he was played by Val Kilmer. I walk back into town and duck into a shop that caters to tourists and thumb through a book about Doc.

He died of tuberculosis. He was in Glenwood Springs with the hope that the sulfur springs would help him heal. Modern medicine says that it probably made things worse. The thing I find most interesting about him are his last words. He was a noted gambler and gunslinger and most everyone, including himself, guessed he would go out with guns blazing. When he was on his deathbed, he looked down at his feet, realized he was going to die in bed with his boots off and said, “Well I'll be damned. This is funny.”, and expired.

During the quiet spots on the long drive, I think about how it used to be a measure of daring and courage to travel out west, and now I am being accused of taking the “easy way out” traveling out west to settle down.

Looking back, I think it did take a measure of courage to stand up to my peers and leave the “fun scene” to be a responsible adult. I wonder if I would have felt less like a loser if I had been riding a horse with a six-shooter strapped to my hip.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Your friends' reaction is called "hating." You need to follow your heart. That's never the wrong thing to do. Nice post.