Life fact about me, my dad is retired Air Force. I consider it a great honor to grow up in a family that is deeply rooted in love for the military and America. With the military comes the somewhat exciting, yet somewhat painful, requirement to move from state to state. I was born in Washington D.C., and lived in Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and Colorado before the age of 7. If my dad had not broken his back in an unforeseen incident, then we probably would have moved multiple times throughout middle and high school. We landed in Colorado though, where I had the privilege of spending the entirety of my formative years in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is home to me. Even though I am just returning from my first trip back in 8 years, nothing has changed…. the air (hello, altitude and asthma), the people, the atmosphere, the beauty. After high school, I have lived in California, Texas, and Tennessee. I have travelled to numerous states across the US, along with Egypt, London, and Israel. No matter where I go or the sights I’ve seen, there is nothing quite like Colorado. There is nothing quite like home.

When I walked out of the airport to my rental car, I stood there for a few minutes and stared at the mountains. Why did I ever take their beauty for granted? Seriously, Pikes Peak was right in fronts of my face for 12 years.

I know that I was young, but I wish I could go back in time and realize how fortunate I was to call this place home. I’ve seen oceans, I’ve even lived by “mountains,” visited national monuments, seen pyramids, but there is nothing quite like living in the shadow of the Rockies.

So what did I do for my week back home? I was a tourist. Indulge with me on the following list…

I only ate at my favorite local places: French Onion Soup at La Baguette, Cinnamon Twists at Boonziaajer’s Dutch Bakery (way too many), Italian Sub at Mollica’s, Nonpareils at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I visited Garden of the Gods and Glen Erie…. and I may or may not have taken 300+ pictures, as if my mom didn’t take me there every week growing up. I walked through Old Colorado City with my best friend of 16+ years. I drove by all of our old “Cunningham’s Meats and Specialty Foods” stores to see what they had become, and reminisced on the countless hours I spent growing up in them. I visited my old middle/high school (yes, I am that person), and I felt like I was 16 again. I even went to volleyball practice (gave a pep talk too!), and I visited my old volleyball club… Oh what I would give to have no responsibility in the world but to play volleyball again. During my trip, I met with old friends and made new ones. On my last day, I stopped by my home church, New Life. It was here that I learned about the importance of a relationship with Jesus… to this day, whenever I hear a song from Desperation Band or Ross Parsley, it takes me back to the innocent 10 year old version of me. Lastly, I took a drive through the Air Force Academy and our old home, the place where this Colorado journey all started.

It is safe to say that if I took anything for granted 10 years ago, I did not take it for granted on this trip. Did I mention that I was home for my 10-year high school reunion? It was surreal to see everyone grown up, in careers, relationships, kids. A group of us stayed up until 3am looking at our old yearbook and discussing memories. I could not imagine a better way to spend the evening, aside from the realization that there is a reason we do not stay up until 3am anymore 🙂

I know this blog is probably more interesting to me than it will ever be to you, and I am 100% okay with that.

My hope is that you draw a line in the sand. Today, wherever you are, make a choice to no longer take things for granted. Seasons change quickly. One day you’re living the 18-year-old life of endless energy, fast forward 10 years, you can barely stay awake past 10pm. Since time travel has yet to be possible (though it would be so cool) we have no way of changing the past… BUT you can make conscience choices to live every moment of the future. If you have the opportunity to go back to your old home and be a tourist like me… DO IT. If you need to simply be present in the place you are at (even if you do not like it)… Be there. Be all there.

Get off your phone. Look up. Embrace life.

… and maybe visit Colorado, it’s the best.

– Meg Hope