It’s been grand |

It’s been grand

Jessica Smith

It’s only been three months, but it already feels like years since I boarded the plane in Shanghai and stepped out at Denver International Airport. Time’s a funny thing, expanding and shrinking, and all we can do is just keep living and try not to worry about it.

I knew that exchanging a city of 20 million for a town of 2,000 would be a big change, and it was, but not in the ways that I expected. I certainly did not miss the crowds, and so far have been quite content to swap skyscrapers for mountains, and clouds of smog for fresh air. I do miss some of the delicious food, but hey, I’m still an American, after all. Give me a steak or a burger and I’m happy.

It’s the sounds. From my apartment, I can hear the train go by, but I hardly notice it. My ears are used to filtering out machines and industrial sounds. One night, however, early on, I was sitting in my chair reading when a strange sound suddenly cut across my consciousness. My head snapped up. What the heck was that? I waited, perplexed, until it repeated and I realized what it was – a cow mooing from a nearby field. The roaring train I hardly noticed, but the sound of a farm animal stopped me mid-sentence.

Another surprising event occurred when I went to get a cup of coffee. Entering the Grand River coffee shop in Granby, I walked in on a discussion of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.” Awesome, I thought, and continued chatting with the woman behind the counter, Jill, as I ordered. When I told her I’d moved here from Shanghai, I expected the usual comments (“how interesting,” “what was it like,” etc.)

“Oh, ni hao!” she exclaimed.

It took me a moment to register the Chinese words for “hello.”

“Ni shuo zhongwen ma?” I asked. (Do you speak Chinese?)

She did. What followed was a great conversation about our mutual experiences with the country and its language. I should have known that physical distance means very little nowadays, and I marvel at how every single day can surprise you, no matter what corner of the world you’re living in.

To be honest, I’ve had fun re-acclimatizing to American life, and a lot of that has happened in Grand County. Just a few examples:

• Chatting with Front Rangers and locals alike at the Winter Park Beer Festival

• Hiking, boating, and enjoying the magnificent scenery of Grand Lake

• Having drinks at The Library with friends

• Going to the movies at the Foundry in Fraser

• Antique-ing with my parents and sister in Tabernash

• Sitting in on School Board meetings and witnessing firsthand the dedication of educators in the community

• Driving by the stunning scenery of Byers Canyon and surrounding areas

• Conversations on all topics at the Sky-Hi office

While it’s been great, the time has come to move on again. Starting next week I’ll be working as a reporter for the Summit Daily in Frisco. Fortunately, it’s not far, and I’ll certainly be visiting.

So I wanted to say thanks to everyone, and especially to my colleagues, who have made these past months genuinely enjoyable. I see now why people come here, and why they stay. Thanks a lot, Grand County – it’s been grand.

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