I’m a transplant. I didn’t grow up here; in Carbondale, I mean. True, my parents were living here when I was born— almost happened right there in the 1969 Ford pickup they got from my mom’s godmother, but that’s a-whole-nother story!
Like this one: Recently, while taxiing on the runway in Aspen, I (and everyone else onboard) listened to a mother coaxing her young son: “Where were you born? C’mon, sweetie. Tell us where you were born.” The boy, probably four or five years old, said, “In a hospital.” She turned to face her companion, “he was born here, in Aspen.” I couldn’t help but smile, and think, “Good luck, kid.”
In my early childhood we lived in Emma, and Woody Creek after that. The summer I turned nine, my sisters and I moved to Denver with our mom, where we lived in the same house for the next nine years. All of my childhood memories of Carbondale are from when we would come to visit our grandparents: Easter/spring break, Potato Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas break, a week or two in the summer…
From what I remember, back then it was a sleepy town; without even the reckless, breath-taking drag races on Main Street that our cousins in Montrose enjoyed every weekend. Carbondale moved at its own pace, about the speed of a lazy horse on a dusty summer afternoon. Beerworks was the post office, and we stood on the sidewalk in front to watch the parades go by. (They seemed longer then, but we were mainly focused on grabbing fistfuls of candy without getting clipped by a horse.)
I do have flashbacks now and then… like when I pass an old guy in his favorite hat, with his head just above the steering wheel, pulling an old horse trailer. Or when I see the sunlit grass and it’s exactly the same shade of green as when we would sit on metal bleachers drinking cold, cold cans of Dr. Pepper and watching the American Legion team play softball. This was a great town to visit as a kid in the 80s: empty fields, wild, running creeks and the carnies that came to town each year to set up their rides and booths for a weekend, then move on.
I moved to Carbondale briefly, in my twenties. I attended CMC and worked at the Nugget and kdnk (when it was still in the Dinkel building.) That didn’t last long, and I quickly moved on, getting my fix in bigger, faster circles. Then, in my thirties, I moved here for good (even if I didn’t realize it at the time.)
Now, seventeen years later, I’m in deep. I have roots. I’m involved in my community. I am home. Sure, I joke about moving out of the country (especially this November for four years, give or take) but whenever I actually consider moving, I think, “Where would I go?” “What would I do when I got there?” And, “Who would I sit in the roundabout with?” I finally realized that this is my hometown because this is where my people are.
So, I’ve come up with a plan to keep Carbondale cool as long as possible. Here it is: let’s all start saying we’re from Utah when we go on vacation. A little white lie to preserve the essence of our town? It’s worth it. I’m going to pick a small town in Utah and google it so I know a few specifics, then, whenever people ask me where I’m from, I’ll start talking about home and how great it is, but I’ll remember to substitute [name of small town, Utah] for Carbondale. That way, we can hang on to our little haven in the mountains, and Utah will become inundated with the tourists-who-move-here.
As I see it, it’s a win-win, especially for Utah. As diversity comes to Utah, it will dilute their whiter-than-white, conservative-values-except-for-polygamy, bring-your-own-beer-to-the-bar reputation. And just like the ‘Ski Vail!’ campaign seems to be keeping Aspen’s ski slopes relatively un-crowded, maybe with my ‘Try Utah!’ concept we can keep Carbondale’s sleepy, hometown feel intact for a little bit longer.