The gypsy has settled down. After four bus trips to Colorado from Los Angeles, I signed a lease for a studio apartment in northern Colorado in July of 2014. Three weeks later, I shipped 18 FedEx boxes to Fort Collins, handed my house-key to my sister, and boarded Greyhound from San Diego--long story--and headed for my new home. Three transfers later (Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake) I arrived. But because of a delay in Salt Lake, I arrived too late to get the key to my studio. I would spend that night at Motel 6. For the first time in two nights I slept in a real bed, happy to know I was coming home.
The next morning I grabbed my three pieces of luggage and made my way to the leasing office. I called for a taxi, but before they arrived, another motel guest offered me a ride. Together with her boyfriend, we made our way--about four miles, I think--to the apartment complex.
After signing the lease, I headed across the street.
The studio is a ground-floor unit. My door is right under the stairs. Right outside the door were the boxes I had shipped, all intact, all undisturbed. When my new friends had left, I began moving the boxes inside.
When I had found the apartment the previous month, the tenant had still been living here, so I couldn't get a tour. Instead, I was shown photos on the leasing agent's computer. I saw bookshelves, and lots of open space. I also saw the washer/dryer tucked away in the bathroom, and a brief glimpse of the kitchen area. Pictures, however, didn't do it justice. Empty of furniture, the studio seemed larger--emptier.
I had no furniture. I left behind a bed that i had bought 10 years before. Shipping that would have cost me more money than I had for this relocation, so I left it behind. I had posted an ad online, trying to sell it, but I had had no takers by the time I had left for San Diego for a family gathering prior to my departure.
Box by box, I found a place for my things. Sometimes the placement was temporary. I knew, once I was completely unpacked, I would find a more permanent location.
The unpacking took the better part of a week. Books went onto the bookshelves. Clothes--once I located the hangers in the last box opened-found their home in the one closet.
Before leaving Los Angeles, I had ordered a futon to be delivered to my new address. It took nearly four weeks for it to arrive. In the interim, I slept on an air-mattress my sister had given to me. Each night I re-inflated it. Each morning, I moved it to a corner of the room and out of my way.
Fort collins is a much smaller town than Los Angeles. For the next few weeks I walked everywhere. I explored different streets, neighborhoods, as I familiarized myself with the place I hoped to make my new home.
It felt like I had brought Los Angeles weather with me. It was August when I arrived, and days found me navigating the city in 80- and 90-degree weather. Then, most days, thunderstorms would come in during the afternoons. I had experienced this in my previous trips, so I was prepared for the storms when they came each day. Usually I tried to be back home by the time the first raindrops fell, but not always.
Something that I hadn't noticed on my exploratory trips was the number of trains that pass through Fort Collins on a daily basis. For the first several weeks I would wake up in the middle of the night, roused by a train's whistle. I discovered that I had unknowingly settled halfway between two sets of railroad tracks. To the west were the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks. To the east, Union Pacific. I still don't know which trains are the ones that wake me each morning to this day. Eventually--now eight months--the trains don't disturb my sleep so much, but they do mark the beginning and end of my days.
A couple of months after I had finally settled in, my sister called to ask me to return to Los Angeles at the end of the school year. She was planning to travel to Australia, and she wanted me to take care of her animals in her absence: two dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and two small frogs. So I'll be traveling again. This time, once she returns from her vacation, I'll be heading out on a new gypsy's trip. This time, the destination will be North dakota. I'll also make stops in Idaho and Montana while en route, and take three more states off the list of those I have yet to visit.
The trip to Los Angeles will be by air, but the rest of the trip will be via Greyhound again. It will involve two layovers on the first leg (Las Vegas and Salt Lake City again--and one layover between Butte Montana and Bismarck. (I'll stop briefly in Bozeman.)
The trip home (God I love saying that about returning to Colorado--will involve two layovers, Minneapolis and Kansas City, before I'm back in Fort Collins.
It looks as though this gypsy has finally found the place where she wants to settle down.
I'm sure there will be more traveling in my future. There are about 12 states I have yet to visit. Making those trips will be shorter--easier--starting from the middle of the country, rather from the west coast. Most of the states I have yet to see are either mid-Atlantic or northeastern states--with the exception of Florida, which I've somehow missed in all the family travels.
Colorado, and the Rockies, will always be my home--that place I return to from wherever else I wander.