From a Colorado native to a transplant: Your altitude problem is my attitude problem
As I was standing in line at the credit union yesterday afternoon, I was reminded that my home town is still a relatively small place -- if I want it to be. As I waited to cash my check, I overhead the woman in front of me say to the teller*, "You know, I could have made it to the grocery store today, but I didn't have the time or energy to go up the hill." (*The teller, Joyce, has been doing my banking since my mom opened up my account in 1980, when I was born. I don't even bring my ID in -- Joyce knows every single one of her clients by name.)
What stuck out to me was the "up the hill" portion of this meaningless exchange, because my mother (also a native) says things like this -- referring to I-25 as "the Valley Highway," shopping at "U-Hills" (University Hills) and Garts (now Sports Authority) -- all the time. Things that seem to suggest that Denver is a tiny place at the bottom of a mountain, a place with one traffic light and a creamery where everyone in town hangs out. A place still inhabited by people like her -- true Colorado/Denver natives.
I often refer to a place that no longer exists or catch myself giving directions that involve "the old Cinderella City," as if that means anything to anyone who's moved here since 1990. But just because I am from here and know everything there ever was to know about the last thirty years of Denver's lore/life doesn't mean I should hate the transplant population -- which, in 2012, makes up much of Colorado. Denver's getting big, and that's cool, right?
Maybe it's time for me to move to Los Angeles. And become the person I think I hate.