My home town is burning. The images are devastating. The idea that the beauty that surrounded me in my youth will be gone is heartbreaking.
Years ago I learned a little trick. When people would ask me where I was from I would tell them, Colorado Springs. Sometimes they knew it and sometimes they didn’t. They would inevitably ask how I felt about it or how it was or something. My stock answer became “It’s a beautiful place.” Depending on my feel for my audience I would continue with something like “but the people are ugly.” Some people knew exactly what I meant and others probably thought I honestly thought my neighbors were unattractive.
I know that Colorado is in my blood forever. I will always be a Colorado Native. There is something about that land that makes me smile and cry and have the sweetest moments of awe. But the overall politics of Colorado Springs is ugly. When I graduated high school there were more that 65 Christian Right organizations based there and the number has only grown.
I am an avid listener of NPR and have been for a long time. I’ve only heard Colorado Springs mentioned twice. First was a few years ago about tax cuts. They were turning off every something street light, letting all kinds of city employees go, no longer having trash cans in parks and severely limiting mowing in the parks. They were asking residents to bring their lawn mowers to the parks to help out. I could appreciate taking trash cans out of parks. I’m a big fan of packing out what you brought in. But the rest I just found embarrassing. They interviewed a woman, whose job it used to be to make sure all the street lights were lit, and now she has to go around turning them off. She marked them with a tag. Then residence would call to report a light out and be told if it was marked it was intentionally off due to budget cuts. This was all because the residents had not approved taxes that would pay for these services.
The second time I heard about Colorado Springs was more recently. It was about the Waldo Canyon fire. I had seen images on line. Heard from friends who were there or still had family there. The reports brought back the tears that the images had started. My hometown was burning. While I always felt like a bit of an outsider there and would never move back it’s still my hometown. It’s sort of like a first love. I know it. It’s incredibly beautiful. And I shared over 18 years of my life with it. Now I’m not sure what will be left when I go home this summer.
My first 2 houses are far from the evacuation zone. The first I don’t even remember and the second we moved out of when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. But the house I truly grew up in is in the evacuation zone. The fire is so close. It’s not my home any more but it still gets to me. I’ve seen it in person and on line. The new owners have made some changes, it’s theirs now. But there is still something about losing your childhood home.