Rocky Mountain High
Armed with my black pen and handmade journal, I am sitting out on the back deck, which overlooks the Rocky Mountains. The peaks are covered in snow – an unfamiliar element to these native Angeleña eyes –and I keep gazing out at them, hoping they’ll whisper their secrets to me. There are no secrets in Los Angeles. It’s too hot and bright and phony for mystery. Yet like it or not, it is my home, and at 31 I am growing resigned to the prospect of never living elsewhere.
Now though. Now I am here, and I am more often trying to live in the Now. The mountains provide a snow-capped, otherworldly backdrop to my scribbles, and I am overly conscious of the smell. This aroma assaults me; clean and fresh, like pine needles and oxygen wiped of exhaust fumes and millions of bodies fighting over limited dollars and limited carpool lanes. It has been ten years since I last saw and smelled these mountains, and never before from the great state of Colorado.
Colorado bears similarity to a few states I’ve visited, yet the unlikely combination of characteristics renders it distinct. Health-conscious like Oregon and California. Mountainous like Wyoming and Montana. Friendly like Idaho and Illinois. Weapon-obsessed like the Deep South and Arizona. The day before, we visited outfitter stores packed with bows and hunting gear, pawn shops teeming with AR-10 rifles that no one would sell to us because we’re from California. Not that these weapons hold any appeal for me whatsoever. Owning a weapon would only add to the sleepless nights and heart palpitations.
But here, Here and Now, my undesired hangers-on Anxiety and Depression have fled. The words come more easily, where my brain may quiet and process regrets I’ve left undisturbed for years, until they festered and seeped into my waking life. Oddly enough, these words come with a melody, and before too many lines I know I’m writing not just another poem, but a song.
I had forgotten, but I used to write songs. Not for any reason – I wasn’t Joni Mitchell or anything – but something compelled me to connect words with melodies and harmonies. Nothing I wrote was going to win a Grammy, but that wasn’t why I did it.
Somewhere in my past, I stopped writing songs. Too much dissuasion, too much exhortation to practicality. Cast off the follies of youth and whatnot; pull up the big-girl dress slacks and go to work in the grayed out world of corporate America. Stop all the feelings, stop all the words, stop all the music and anything else that brings you to life.
But here, the words and the melodies refuse my ignoring. They birth themselves on their own, with gentle coaxing.
Maybe it’s because I notice more here, and let it pass over then pour through me like a slow-moving stream. Life in my urban homeland is a constant filtering out of details, details that could easily cause a short-circuit due to their chaotic profusion. Here I practice looking and absorbing, instead of shutting out.
Whatever the cause, I have written a complete song. Verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus.
Then I write another. Each day, the pages of my journal fill, my head swims with harmonics.
I take the songs back with me to Los Angeles, and sit at my piano to compose the melodies I heard in Colorado.
I remember now, I used to write songs.
Ah, this is beautiful. And wonderful. And even melodic.
You’re welcome to come back any time. 🙂
ekgo recently posted…“I hate mommy”: A prelude to Mother’s Day
Thank you. I hope to go back one day.
Ice Scream Mama
colorado really is inspiring..
Ice Scream Mama recently posted…Writing from memory when your memory sucks
It sure is.
I JUST came back from Colorado, my first time ever. And I could not stop singing your blog post title. The whole time. John Denver has way more meaning now. 🙂 I totally feel and smell everything that you described as it’s so fresh in my mind. It is gorgeous and inspiring there! I definitely would love to take a trip back there, even if it means landing with all those darn air pockets in Denver.
I bet the music you made with colorado in your heart is stunning!
Jen Brunett recently posted…I Am Woman.
Haha! He so does. It is very inspiring there, I felt like everywhere I turned was a photograph waiting to happen and a melody waiting for creation.
Now I want to go to Colorado!
Twindaddy recently posted…Share Your World – 2014 Week 17
I highly recommend it.
My dad lives in Colorado so I have been there a bunch of times and I can well imagine how the complete 180º in surroundings (pine trees for palm trees, mountains for ocean, clean air for smog) would shake loose your forgotten song-writing spirit. What a great trip.
Ellen recently posted…Can I Kick It?
It was like visiting another world, which is always good for my creativity. 🙂
This is beautiful and lyrical. I will read it again.
This is really gorgeous writing. I’m so glad that you’re in the now in Colorado (my native state and I miss it a LOT right now, seeing your gorgeous photos) and that you’re back to writing songs. Love.
Kristi Campbell recently posted…Our Land: Four Siblings, One with Special Needs
Thank you. I can’t imagine living there – wow! Being surrounded by such beauty all the time.
It’s a wonder what a change of scenery can do for your soul.
Being engulfed in nature wakes up so many quiet callings inside of you.
Beautiful post, lovely photographs, and I am happy you found some peace and joy.
Martha recently posted…Camelia – Weekly Zentangle Challenge
Oh my, does it ever. Thank you.
I like your description of Los Angeles being too hot, bright and phony for mystery.
Your photographs and your poetic language are gorgeous!
Congratulations on finding the music.
Karen recently posted…When I Grow Up. . .
Thank you. And it is. Most people don’t understand unless they’ve lived there long enough to pick up on these subtleties.
Beautiful!! So many lovely lines in this. They begged to be read more than once. And such a wonderful feeling when your muse comes back to life.
Genna Claire recently posted…lessons over coffee
Thank you. And yes, my spirit felt wonderfully full.
Oh this is a lovely post,why did you give up writing songs,you would have done well? Description of all the places along with the pictures are charming.
Thank you. I didn’t plan to give it up, it was just one of those activities you lose along the way.
Oh I did love reading this. Gotta go find some John Denver now.
Kristin recently posted…My Cervix Doesn’t Smoke
🙂 His name is inextricably linked with this state.
Ah, I was singing as I read this. Colorado… I spent a summer there with my Aunt working as a tour guide at The Lost Gold Mine. You never know where the road will take you Natalie, so don’t be too sure that LA will always be home.
I love the lyricism in this post (see what I did there?) It is much needed reinforcement for me to live in the now.
I hope so. I really do.
And glad I could help reinforce that point. 😉
What a gorgeous, positive post. I stay worried about you so I’m glad you found this.
I write songs too. I wrote 12 of them for my first book, the Helene one. I’m glad we share that.
Lance recently posted…Ceremony
Thank you. Somehow I knew you wrote songs… 😉
Glad to hear you are writing songs again… that’s important. Nice pics.
tedstrutz recently posted…Speakeasy #159… THE LEPIDOPTERIST
Thank you, Ted.
This is beautiful and resonated so deeply with me. I am a native of the blue waters of Pure Michigan, living in NYC for the past three years. You described so richly the dichotomy between urban life and the soul soothing richness of wide open spaces and fresh air. Every summer when we visit family in MI, I find a part of me coming back to life. And like you, the anxiety and depression slips away. But yet for me, there is something about the city that keeps drawing me back.
I love this piece.
If I lived in New York, I’d be drawn there, too – I love New York! But yes, the mountains call to me, too.
Samantha Brinn Merel
This is so beautiful, I feel inspired just reading it. Sometimes, we just have to get away from it all for awhile to remember who we are.
Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…May Day
Exactly. A vacation to restore perspective. 🙂
Not very long ago, one of your Yeah Write posts was a poem and I felt bad for not commenting on it, but poetry always seems to go right over my head. Not being able to comment on that poem had my thinking one day about why I couldn’t seem to ever understand poetry and I decided that the next time I saw a poem, I would try to see it as the lyrics for a song. Then you posted this and it makes perfect sense to me that you write songs.
Vanessa D. recently posted…Unexpected Loss
Haha, poetry does that to a lot of people. When you think of it as a song, sometimes that changes things.
Thanks for commenting!
OMG I freaking LIVE in this great state, now I feel guilty for not writing something (forget about something good, just something at all) daily! Seriously though, there is something special about Colorado. I visited once and thought maybe I could move here. A year and a half later I visited again and within two months I had packed up my car and moved out here. It sounds so woo-woo to say but I had this feeling when I visited here that I’d never felt anywhere else, this feeling of “I should live here.”
Pam recently posted…Nesting 2.0
Haha, well if I were there everyday, I don’t know…
And that’s so amazing! I’ve had that feeling before, I just didn’t move while I had the chance. Lesson learned: don’t let the chance pass you by.
Your writing is beautiful as so many here have commented before me. You feel things deeply and what a gift to be able to partake in these feelings and your experiences through your wonderful writing.
Katia recently posted…And Don’t Forget to Act Out, My Love
Thank you. Sometimes such depth of feeling feels more like a curse than anything else…
Took a trip to Colorado Springs one summer, 1970, from our home in Florida. Yes, the place does things to your head. Best pictures I ever took were during that 2 week vacation.
Really, it’s hard to take a bad picture there. 😉
Beautiful, beautiful writing and you so wonderfully captured the feeling of getting lost in the day to day and coming close to losing your muse. That’s what it felt like to me. I was up to my eyeballs in the maintenance of life and forgot to write songs and be creative. I haven’t been to Colorado since I was too young to really appreciate it on the level you describe here, but man, would I love to go back. Sounds like bliss and from the pictures, it looks like it too.
It was as close to bliss as I’ve been lately. And I get too caught up in the maintenance of life, too, and what I “should” be doing. I am sick of living according to “shoulds.”