Feels Like Home

Someone asked me today if it were a cultural shock for me living here in this rural corner of the state after growing up in Denver. I told her that it felt the same, that it felt like home. If I had moved here directly from Denver, it might be a different matter, but I left Denver when too many people from out of the state moved in and immediately tried to change the slow-moving town to a great city. When I was growing up, Denver was a cowtown without a skyline, and fabulous views of the mountains from wherever I stood. Each neighborhood was a town in itself, with churches, schools, stores, a library, all within walking distance. The political bent was . . . well, there was no bend; beliefs seemed to hover right about in the middle. People tended to vote their beliefs rather than follow the party, and overall, it seemed to be centrist. There was some crime and some poorer neighborhoods, but there were no gangs or gang-related activities.

Then came the California invasions. Now Denver is indistinguishable from other major cities, with gangs galore, horrendous social problems, outrageous real estate prices, an agenda the rest of the state has a hard time dealing with, and no autonomous neighborhoods.

I am grateful to be out of that mess, grateful to have found a place that feels like home, that feels like the neighborhood “town” I came from.

The conversation, however, made me wonder why people leave an area they are dissatisfied with and immediately try to change their new location to mimic the old one. Although this is the current problem with a lot of immigrants — people want to change the laws in this country to make it more like the place they came from — it’s also a problem when large numbers of people move from one state to another.

I blame Californians for the change, but New Yorkers cause just as many problems in some areas. In fact, someone from New York recently moved here and is trying to steer this town toward being more of an artist’s colony like Taos rather than accepting it for what it is — a quiet, rather impoverished though congenial town with a lot to offer as it stands today.

I know people prefer what they are familiar with, but migrators — either internal or international — generally leave to go to a new place in search of a better life, so why try to make the new way like the old?

This isn’t simply a problem from state to state, but also from one area to another within a state. I spent some years in the high desert of California, across the mountains from the Los Angeles sprawl. At one time, it was a quiet place, but the state tried to break up the big-city gangs by getting families to relocate to the desert. Now, the place is rife with gang-related troubles, including drugs and crime.

It’s as if they (whoever “they” are) want to turn the whole world into a cesspool. Migrators seem to go along with this agenda because they believe in the rightness of their cause and the wrongness of people who want to live their lives by their own religious beliefs rather than the political beliefs of others. It’s not a surprise there are problems; there always are when the rights of the few are given precedence over the rights of the many.

But I’m migrating away from the topic of this blog. Mostly I’m trying to understand the mentality of those who leave one horrible area and immediately try to change their new environment into an equal horror rather than trying to fit in with the local culture. Though I suppose the truth is they don’t think of the change as horror. Nor do they see anything wrong with what they are doing. Many such immigrants I’ve met have a touch of arrogance about them, as if they thought they were bringing light to a dark area, and never realize they could be a dark bringer instead.

Luckily, this place is small enough and rural enough and independently-minded enough that it will be years before it’s changed all out of recognition. Luckily too, if it’s changed faster than I think it will be, I have my own place — my own personal gated place — and within this enclosure, I can still be at home no matter what goes on outside the fence.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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6 Responses to “Feels Like Home”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I first visited Denver in 1966 because I was attending a summer session at the U of C in Boulder. I liked Boulder and I liked all the nearby mountains our group climbed on the weekends. I hope the turn-it-into-a-cesspool crowd hasn’t ruined Boulder yet.

  2. Estragon Says:

    I guess I’m one of the meddlesome migrators. The city I was born in grew at about the same rate and to the same size as Denver. It’s just too big for my liking now. It has many of the same big-city problems, but also a lot going for it if you like big-city life. A famous actor once called it “New York, if it was run by the Swiss”.

    Another city a couple of hours away was about the same size as the city I lived in back then. They built lots of freeways to support sprawl, the core area depopulated, and rot set in. Eventually, even the far flung suburbs depopulated too. Today it’s about 1/4 the population of the city I was from. Driving through it a few years ago, I was struck by how much it resembled a deserted war zone.

    The mid-sized city I’ve lived in for the last 35 years is more my speed. Like many cities this size, it suffered from some sprawl and a deteriorating core area, which for a time I was involved in trying to reverse. Having seen the two cities differing paths in my youth, I didn’t want to see it hollowed out. The downtown still has its challenges, but the efforts seem to have had some modest success. At this stage of life though, l think my meddlesome days are done.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think it’s great when people try to improve a city’s structure. Even here, there is a lot that can be done to fix up the old houses and decrepit areas, but too many people are turning into slumlords, buying up the houses and renting them out, which does nothing to improve the town since less than half the houses are owner occupied. I don’t like when people immediately start changing policies. I remember when some California people moved to Utah and the first thing they did was to sue the school system because of the Mormon influence. For cripes sake, if you don’t like Mormons, move somewhere else.

      On a personal level, I really don’t like the sprawl, which is why I left Denver. It’s funny — some friends went to Denver the other day to a suburb I’ve never heard of. Apparently, there are a whole slew of new towns. Back before I left, people worried that there would be one huge city sprawl all the way from Fort Collins to Pueblo, and it’s pretty much come to pass.

      I doubt we will ever be part of the sprawl — we’re too far away — but if the mega city ever does creep this way, I’ll be long past my expiration date.


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