|Not the car I saw today, but you get the idea.|
As I was pulling out of the parking lot of one of the many organic grocery stores in Boulder this morning, I noticed several cars with tons of bumper stickers on them. The stickers were typical of this groovy, outdoorsy and often clueless place: "Wag, don't bark." "Coexist" (have you seen this one? where the word "coexist" is spelled with lots of different religious symbols?). "Another mama for Obama." And of course "26.2."
It got me thinking about the ways I do and don't fit in here. Which of course lends itself to a nice list, or in this case a pair of them. Here they are:
5 Ways I Do Belong in Boulder1. I'm mostly politically liberal. I don't like nasty xenophobia, I believe in taxing the rich, I think it's shameful that we haven't had universal health care in this country and I do believe we need the government to prod people to behave in ways they should behave anyway (e.g. helping the poor).
2. I like to run. And hike. And I like that Boulder funds open space. It's beautiful here. I love being able to step out my door and be in the middle of nowhere in 15 minutes. I know it keeps land at a premium here, which effectively means I can't afford to live in Boulder proper. But I'm OK with that. The trails are worth it to me.
3. The people here are my style (to the extent that I have a style). There aren't a lot of places where dressing up is necessary, including my job. Business casual is as fancy as it gets around here. The stuff that is in style is appealing to me: puffy down vests, low-slung shoes from companies like Born and Merrell, workout clothes and jeans with hoodies. I fit right in.
4. The university means lots of good cultural options--classical music, a planetarium, lectures, continuing ed classes, a Shakespeare festival in the summer, great college sports. You can easily keep learning here, your whole life.
5. I love the weather in all its extremes. My favorite part is the dryness (I've come to loathe humidity and hope I never have to live an East Coast/Midwest summer again), but I also love the dramatic thunderstorms, the snow and even the wind (unless I have to run for two hours in it).
5 Ways I Don't Belong in Boulder1. I'm a traditional main-line Christian with a Roman Catholic bent. I think the New Age "spirituality" around here has a lot of silly showiness about it, without much substance. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of genuinely good people who espouse those philosophies (nor is it to say that I'm always an exemplar of the best Christian virtues). But if I had a nickel for every "Buddhist" I've met here who's about as far from "Zen" in attitude as you can get, I'd be a rich woman.
2. I really hate talking about politics, but I'm going to do it just for a second. I don't think everyone who is conservative is evil or a dupe. My own family back in Missouri is mostly pretty conservative. There are even some who watch Bill O'Reilly (yeah, I do think he's pretty awful). They are NOT stupid. They've just had experiences that are different from mine and therefore have a different perspective on the issues. I hate it when the typical Boulder liberal tries to engage me in conservative-bashing. I won't do it. I don't even like to bash George W. Bush. I believe it's up to history to judge people like him. How can I judge someone whose role in current events is still so recent? (By the way, this goes for Obama-bashers too.)
3. I don't believe everything should be run by committee. I believe there needsto be real authority figures in certain roles. There was a controversy at my library at the end of January over a volunteer who was asked to step down. The way the good citizens of Boulder reacted was nothing less than the blog-comment letters-to-the-editor nasty-email equivalent of a lynch mob. The way they are still talking about our director is inexcusable. Maybe this decision was a bad one, maybe it wasn't. But I like that our director is MAKING decisions and sticking to her guns. In the past, leadership at the library (and elsewhere around here) has been too easily swayed by the mass of Boulderites who think they know better. I'm glad we have a real leader now. Hopefully she's real enough they won't scare her away.
4. Boulderites love bumper stickers. I've seen entire cars covered with them. I'm not a fan of bumper stickers, if they're on cars that is. I have a bunch at home that I'd love to put in an appropriate place. Maybe a bulletin board in my basement?
5. I don't like obsessing about food. There's not a lot of moderation around here when it comes to food. Vegan evangelists, raw-food evangelists, 21-day cleanse evangelists.....sigh. I wish people would just eat what they want to and stop talking about it. In particular, please don't tell me every time I have a stomach ache that I need to give up dairy or wheat. I like cheese, I like ice cream, I like good crusty bread. I'm going to keep eating them....in moderation.....when I can muster it. I promise no moderation when it comes to chocolate.
For these reasons, I think it's good I live 12 miles away from Boulder proper. I get down there often. But I can also leave. There's a reason they call Boulder "25 square miles surrounded by reality." In my life, I need both the reality and the fantasy.