Since my last post, I’ve been busy. I returned to the U.S., burrowed myself into my parents’ apartment-like basement and began plotting the next phase of my life. Looks like it’s going to take place in the wild, wild west…
Far cry from the bright lights of Tokyo…
About a year ago, my friend KRC and I took a little road trip north to the smallish, cowboyish, college town of Laramie, home to the University of Wyoming. She wanted to check out a butterfly display and visit some dinosaurs. I was concerned about the dinosaurs so I thought I should go along.
It was a surprisingly enlightening trip. Who knew she’d buy a house and I’d be renting an apartment there a year later?
We saw some dinosaurs…
We saw some butterflies and beetles…
We spoke with one of the most interesting and knowledgeable TAs I’ve ever met.
She worked in the entomology department and was quite enthused to show us the lab…
If you have to (get to) work in a cool lab like this one, you should also get great views.
We hung out at the Night Heron and played backgammon…
Then we went home and I thought that was that. I returned to Tokyo and life went on.
A few weeks later, KRC told me she found a little house that she and her husband decided to buy for a family get-away. Just like that! She’d fallen in love with the high plains of Laramie and now they’d be going there fairly often.
Meanwhile, during my last few weeks in Japan, I’d decided that I would stay in the U.S. this spring since I’d been gone so much last year – two terms in Tokyo, traveling to Bolivia and hiking the Long Trail had kept me busy and away and it seemed staying closer to home would be a good move.
But this meant finding a job and a place to live. My intention is to teach online, which is becoming more common in the ESL world and makes location less of an issue. A quiet place to work and a reliable Internet connection are the main criteria (besides actually being a teacher). I have a temporary, part-time position with Westgate for the spring and summer, but will be pursuing other possibilities as well.
The next big factor was to find a suitable place to live, so that I had a proper environment for working online. The Front Range in Colorado (generally, the region between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins) can be quite expensive…but Laramie isn’t! A quick perusal of apartment postings on Craigslist confirmed this. Instantly I knew this could be a great solution: Laramie is only two hours north of the Boulder/Longmont area, so it would be easy to still see friends and family; I have a friend who’ll be here occasionally; and it’s much less expensive than the Front Range. Wa-la!
Also, Vedauwoo, a popular rock climbing and camping area, is only 20 minutes up the road. Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone NP, Jackson Hole, the Wind River Range and the Medicine Bow Mountains are located here. Also, 550 miles of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail extend through Wyoming. (The closest access point to the trail from Laramie is 100 miles west, in Rawlins.)
So, a couple of days after this epiphany – and less than a week after I returned home and still jet lag hazy – I went with KRC to Laramie for a visit and to look at apartments. The second one I looked at was mine. I knew it as soon as I walked in. It was a roomy, one-bedroom with worn hardwood floors, great light with east and south-facing windows and lots of character. It was perfect. The apartment is in an old brick building with the features characteristic of structures of previous generations: radiator heating (and the knocks that go with it), old-fashioned cut-glass doorknobs (and solid doors), a black and white-checked tile bathroom floor, and big sturdy hooks in the closets. The windows are modern and designed for the cold weather: double-paned with mini-blinds in between the panes that prevent the blinds from getting tangled. I love everything about this place. It’s bigger than I need, but I have room to create an office area. I might even break my minimalistic code and get some furniture.
The location is fantastic and I’ll write more about that in the next post.
With my intention to return to Japan in the fall, this is most likely a temporary arrangement. But I’ll certainly be content here for the time being.