In the end, I didn’t hate you – or, to paraphrase,
it is the end and I am amazed.
You almost swallowed me whole, you know. And I was so angry because of it, so inwardly vicious, so poisonous. How else do you kill a thing with teeth?
Fort Collins, I met you at seventeen, pursuing you with hazy determination. I had chosen you at eight years old, promised to find your soil beneath my feet, planted myself amongst the mountains and trees and waited to feel… something. And I did.
I lost my friends here. I was stalked and lied to and assaulted here, twice. I was shamed and humiliated here. I hurt so badly here.
For the longest time, it felt like you hated me. Imagine that – a little girl dreams of escaping to a bustling town for nine years, only to have the city spit in her face. Only to be ripped apart and rearranged, to be called a whore and a liar, to be turned inside out by those she considered friends.
But change is always painful.
So maybe you didn’t hate me. Maybe you loved me like I loved loose teeth as a child – I yanked the teeth from my mouth, swallowing the blood as my tongue traced its old permiter. You ripped at my edges until it ached, yeah, but there was something stronger underneath. Or maybe you didn’t think of me at all and this story is one more broken narrative I’ll have to revisit later.
Just to be safe: thank you for what you gave me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to build myself time and time again. Thank you for teaching me every lesson, especially the ones that ended poorly. Thank you for letting me leave with my dignity, my humor, my words. Thank you for the professors who changed my life. Thank you for letting me live. Thank you for my beautiful, strong friends who found me here, who kept me here – thank you for housing the man I love, thank you for bringing us all together. Thank you for being the last place I knew Mani alive. We used to conpare our mountain towns and I think she would’ve found so many places to love here.
Fort Collins, this is the first thing I remember writing about you:
“Temporary girl in a temporary town –
someday I’ll run away and burn it all down.”
It’s almost funny to read that couplet now. Neither of us is running, you’re still standing, and I’ve never felt more permanent.