Small.

I don’t ski, but my love does. He doesn’t like long drives, but I do. This makes for a great symbiotic relationship during the winter months.

This morning, I dropped him and a friend off at Vail, then drove a little further west to Edwards. I have an annual tradition, running on four years now, of doing some shopping on the River Walk here. It’s quiet at this French bakery on a weekday mid-morning, where the quiche is marvelous and the coffee is just the right amount of hot.

Next door, there’s an upscale, very haute couture resale shop where I usually find something interesting, if I don’t actually buy. And there is a fantastic local bookstore nearby which carries a lot of alt press items. When I’m done here today, I’m heading to Minturn to check out a couple more resale shops.

All this plus the snow-covered mountain scenery, each direction and as far as the eye can see … I don’t think this L.A. girl will ever get used to (or tired of) the view; short of the Swiss Alps, I’ve never seen a place that comes close to Colorado. Every time I’m up here I get Rocky Mountain High stuck in my head.

What I mean to say is I totally get why people leave entire lives behind to move here. Yet as much as I love these little Colorado mountain towns, I can only visit them once in awhile, just for a few hours, and I certainly couldn’t actually live in any of them. Yes, the scenery is exquisite and there is eclectic shopping, but I’m the furthest anyone can be from “outdoorsy.” I don’t spend my free time out in the open air unless it’s a walk in my own neighborhood. I’ve spent enough time camping, snow mobiling, hiking, dirt bike riding and such to be aware of how miserable, dirty, bug-bitey, and sun-burnt it can get.

There’s a lot of nature out there in nature. I want no part of it.

Then there’s the early sidewalk roll-up. Most not-so-populated areas close up much earlier than urban areas. If you’re a night owl like me, what the hell do you do with yourself after 8pm? Unless there’s a late-night diner or you like to hang out in bars, there’s a whole lot of nothing to do after hours. In Denver, movie theaters are abundant, have late showtimes, and I can go out for midnight sushi afterward. After moving to Denver from Albuquerque, in fact, it took me a couple of years to realize most places were open much later than I thought. I ain’t going back (or backward) now.

The only other negative is the same across the spectrum of small-town America: Everyone knows everyone else and, as a result, everyone is all up in each other’s business. As much as the goth scene complains about drama, there ain’t no drama like small town drama.

First, there is no privacy to speak of, because everyone goes to the same businesses, gas stations, and churches. You have a fight with your spouse at the Conoco, someone you know saw or heard it. The rumor mill, once it’s going, is faster than in big cities, too, because everyone is aware of who you are. It’s “Hey, didja hear what went down with Joe and Jane?” not “That blonde girl that comes in regularly had a fight with some dude.” The latter is something most people let go as ugly rumor, because they don’t know the people involved; the former, well, it’s interesting in those typically human ways: Pity, empathy, and/or Schadenfreude.

Most of all, you have to be somewhat “normal” (in quotes because I think the concept has more grey area than people realize) to live in a small town. Trust me, I’ve seen what small town talk can do to someone who plays quietly and privately in the BDSM realm, and it ain’t pretty. Add my fervent atheism and penchant for speaking my mind and well … I’d be a pariah in no time. Or relegated to hanging out with the drunks, meth heads, and other outcasts. No, thank you.

Notice I’m not saying “never” here. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years, let alone decades from now. Until just a few years ago, I had no idea I’d have this yearly tradition of playing hooky from home/work and writing a blog post in a French bakery in small town Colorado. And “never” is like “forever;” I try not to promise either, because both are a very, very long time.

Right now, I’d just settle for getting John Denver’s voice out of my skull.

He was born in the summer of his 27th year …

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