Excerpt: The Introduction

colorado_curiosities“I am not eccentric. I’m just more alive than most people. I am an electric eel in a pond of goldfish.”
–Edith Sitwell

When you’re raised in Kansas like I was, you can’t wait to grow up and move to Colorado. It’s a fact, same as pi=3.1459265, just like “thank you” notes should be sent after baby showers.

In fact, when you grow up in Kansas, grown-ups don’t ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They ask, “Where do you want to be?”

And the answer, for those of us who spent our formative years in the Sunflower State, is pretty much universal: “Colorado.” We want to live where we spent our summer vacations, in Estes park where we fed peanuts to chipmunks, at the Garden of the Gods where our dads snapped Polaroids of us pretending to hold up Balanced Rock, at Cripple Creek where we “booed” the villains at the yearly melodrama.

Of course, back then, we thought we wanted to move west for the mountains, for the air that smelled like something from an aerosol can, for the ski instructors that put Billy Deewater, the wheat farmer’s son we all had crushes on, to shame.

But when I finally did move to Colorado, I realized that while the views, the air, and the cute ski instructors are certainly perks, the real beauty of Colorado is in the mindset of the people, in their willingness to try new things, to step out of the box, to see the world differently than CNN say it is.

While the rest of the country obsesses about unemployment rates, Coloradoans create jobs building horses out of car bumpers, squeezing themselves into 20-inch Plexiglass cubes, and memorizing zip codes. While other states “tsk-tsk” Janet Jackson’s breast, Coloradoans skateboard nude, host tele-thongs and throw parties where everyrone comes naked except for raincoats. While the politicos fret over high oil prices, Coloradoans build solar ovens, greenhouses and lawnmowers. I even found a guy in Crawford who built a solar bubble machine.

Some blame it on the altitude, say a person’s brain goes fuzzy at 8900 feet, claim it’s not natural to make dragons out of hubcaps, to give awards for beer drinker of the year. All I know is that the people of Colorado know something the rest of the world seems to have forgotten: that having a good time is a good thing and that viewing life as a grand and glorious adventure is a valuable human endeavor.