"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just Because the Grass Isn't really Always Greener, Does That Mean itCan't be Sometimes? Part 3: The Taste of Greener Grass



In this third part about my planned move North, I want to look at the idea of, as the title has inferred, the greenness of the Colorado grass. That's in no way intended to refer to Colorado's recent changes on the legalization of Marijuana -- though it could. And, perhaps it does, but more in a sense of personal freedom from unreasonable idiocy.

Though I MIGHT want to discuss the idea of being happy where we are -- happy in the here and now -- I want to give an example or two of the greenness of the grass up yonder.
On a recent trip to Fort Collins -- a scouting mission to look at housing -- we found ourselves with a little time to kill. My wife and I ventured over to the Old Town to wander around.
A.) Rather than the strict tourist orientation of Albuquerque's Old Town, we found a community activity. There was a sense that this was part of Fort Collins -- then and now -- and not a low budget Disneyland gift shop strip mall. 
B.) The activity in question was a Book Fair. 

Yes.

A Book Fair.

At one end of the promenade was a piano that some local artists were painting as part of a larger Pianos in Public thing. (Elsewhere, at least one other painted piano was available for the public to play. There was a note that, should it begin to rain, it would be really cool if someone would close the keyboard cover and pull a tarp over it.) Next there was a group of musicians performing some odd experimental composition. not my cup of tea, but great to see people getting out and trying stuff; using public space. 

C.)There were at least four independent bookstores represented, along with several local writers. This, in case you didn't get it, was at a community event -- not a reading put on BY a bookstore AT their location. 

D.) There was a giant scrabble board game laid out with a come and go set of players.

E.)There was live music by local musicians that was not so loud no one could hear for a three block area (As I witnessed at a recent Albuquerque Summerfest Event.)

F.) Directly across from the stage (which was a permanent structure) there was a booth sponsored by a local literary magazine and three local brewers. They sold beer.

I am 55 years old. I was not carded (nor should I be.) I was not required to wear a bracelet showing I'd been carded. The beer drinking was not sequestered from the rest of the public nor hiddne from There were no mounted police patrolling the crowd. There were no police period. There were no rent-a-cops. There WERE a few event volunteers who, if you happened to stroll a bit too far with your beer, asked you politely to head back.

In other words, I was treated like an adult.

Another example. Driving down the average street in Fort Collins, You are hard-pressed to spot signs for businesses. Signs near the roads seem to have a height limit of maybe 8 feet. Trees line the roads, blocking most businesses from view. Not that you CAN'T see them. You just have to look harder. Many businesses are painted in low-key colors, or employ different style exteriors from what is seen in most urban-sprawl areas.

Contrast this with Albuquerque with its 20 foot or higher signs. Driving down, say, Menaul or Central Avenues, one sees nothings but business signs for miles. In older areas, all that remains is an abandoned framework from the sign of a long-defunct business. Owners are loathe to remove them because, once down, the original sign-permit is revoked and new signs must adhere to lower height standards. In Fort Collins, it's about how it is to be a resident. In Albuquerque, how it is to be a business.

I just read an article in the Fort Collins quarterly "Matter", published by Wolverine Farms. in it, a 15 year resident (formerly from Buffalo, NY among other places) decried the shabby shape of the north end of town as well as the sprawl. He's living in my future grass, but he has complaints, too.

So. Should I be satisfied with where I am and how I live? I guess. Thinking about how it will be when we move north is just me living in the future. But satisfaction doesn't engender change. I can't change the way where I am is.... (?) Maybe I could get my citizenship and vote for change in the city. But I can't change the dry miserable heat of summer. Or the dry, dusty cold of winter. I can't change the mindset of the people here. What I CAN do is to go somewhere else and try that. I've given Albuquerque a fair 40-year shake. Time's up.

Will the grass be greener? Will I wind up working at Walmart? Or worse, selling Whole-Life Term Insurance? Maybe. And maybe in the midst of a snowy Colorado Springtime, I'll miss the.... cold dusty wind of an Albuquerque Spring. 

Nah. I have a good feeling that that Northern grass will taste sweeter, even if it's buried under three feet of snow.

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