A Magic Carpet Ride

This was the first phrase that popped to mind tonight when I tried to come up with a description of the past month.

It didn’t start out all that magical. We were hit by Boulder’s 100-year flood square in the face, our garden-level apartment flooding that Thursday night while I was home alone. Steve was on a 24-hr EMT shift watching the world wash away around him. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how it felt to run out into that hallway and see the water coming, throwing down towels under the door already knowing it was futile, and looking at all of our things trying to decide in a flash what we had to have and what we could lose. (As I carted things upstairs I definitely once thought, “Am I going to be that girl who drowns saving her bikes?”) But, I’ll also never forget how grateful and humbled I felt having 8 people including 4 strangers show up to our house that weekend to help us pack and move, when we found out we had less than 36 hours to get out, or the sense of community that our little apartment complex fostered over that weekend. Steve and I spent all day Sunday helping our older neighbors pack and move as well, people whose names we’d never known until those floodwaters forced us out of our little shells and out into the open with one another. When we left, we all hugged goodbye. Driving our packed car out of the driveway for the last time, it felt like the world around me would never look the same, and I would also never see it the same way again.

We moved in with a good friend of ours in Golden while we looked for a new place. It was a working class neighborhood and our neighbors were by and large old bachelors in their 60s — who welcomed us with open arms and made me feel at home immediately. The people we met there said things like, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” and brought us a spaghetti dinner once after we came back from a bike ride. There were four trail networks within a 15 minute ride from the house, and I became obsessed with tending to the compost in our little backyard. On my last day there I noticed earthworms in it – I was ridiculously proud. I fell in love with that humble little town.

A week and a half later, my mom and my sister came to visit. We spent the weekend in Steamboat and I finally got to show my mother the fall colors. Years ago she planned a vacation for us to Boston to see the leaves and I had to cancel because of my work. Since then I’ve always thought of her when I see the leaves change in Colorado. It was really special to get to share that with her, and she had an amazing time.

Around this time Steve and I found a condo in Gunbarrel (in the northeast corner of Boulder) to rent month-to-month, packed all our belongings into the car yet again and moved two Sundays ago. The next day I was on a flight to the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona for work, my first experience with this race. It was a truly incredible experience and 8 days. We worked very hard, no doubt, but when your job involves talking to some of the most talented and inspiring athletes and coaches in the world, as well as some very interesting and dynamic industry and media folks, the line between work and play is truly blurred. On race day I headed out to the pier with AJ and Justin to watch the swim start, and the whole thing gave me chills about 20 times. Then we spent the day in the Ironman Live trailer updating the live blog throughout the race. The highlight though was watching the midnight finishers. I literally saw a woman at the very end — an amputee — miss the cutoff by 48 seconds. Mike Reilly carried her across the line and the crowd was deafening, trying to will her across the line in time with their voices. It was the most heartbreaking and inspiring thing I have seen in a very long time. I then saw an 81-year old Japanese man cross the line a minute after. His gait was slow but steady and his face was set in stoic determination as he made his way down the finishing chute amidst crowds that were already beginning to disperse. He missed the cutoff by just a few minutes, but he finished. I thought about how all of the people I’d just seen must have spent the past few hours wondering if they would make it, yet they didn’t give up. I’ll never forget the sight of their courage and resolve.

Since coming back from Hawaii Tuesday the week has been a (sleep-deprived) blur but finally it’s almost Friday and I’m looking forward to my first weekend in a long time where I’ll just be home. I’m glad for it, but it doesn’t mean that I regret a single second of these whirlwind weeks since the flood hit us. Life has been the opposite of stable and that’s a good thing – we all need that sometimes. It has been a magic carpet ride: strange, sad, elating, inspiring, exhausting, exciting, and eye-opening. I’ve felt a lot of things in the past 30 days but as it winds down towards normalcy one feeling sticks: gratitude.

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