A goodbye to Denver
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Note: This editorial was originally published in the April 2018 edition of Life on Capitol Hill and the Washington Park Profile. It originally appeared under the sub-header "Signing off."
It does not often happen that I am lost for words, but in this moment, I find myself struggling to begin. Being a fan of open-ended journeys and writers who attempt to capture the experience of them, I guess I’ll “begin at the beginning,” as Lewis Carroll once penned.
I am at a beginning and an end: these April issues of the Washington Park Profile and Life on Capitol Hill will be my last. I am stepping down as editor effective April 8. My wife and I leave for Kansas as of April 10. The beginning? We are expecting a child in August, and I have accepted employment at the University of Kansas. I begin work there as a communications professional April 16. Lots of beginnings…
Denver was a site of many beginnings for my wife and me. It was the site of many endings, too. We resettled here after a stint in the Peace Corps cut short by trauma experienced during service. We chose Denver as, in my wife’s words, a place where we could “continue our adventure.” Denver is where we attempted to, and were mostly successful in, laying down our trauma. It is where we found new professional lives. It has been the most welcoming city in which we have ever lived. I say so unconditionally.
I have not explained, though, why it is we are leaving. We are leaving for the simple fact that we cannot afford to stay. My wife and I both have fantastic jobs—dream jobs—but hers will not pay her during maternity leave, and mine cannot solely sustain us. And then, after? We would be working to pay the sitter who we must hire so we both may work… Rather circuitous. I imagine a raft of debt to follow. So, we are choosing to relocate nearer to family, which we have in abundance in the Lawrence, Kansas, and Kansas City region, where the University of Kansas is located. And we are choosing a slower pace. And, frankly, I am choosing a job that will let us spend more time with our children and less working to pay bills.
The dream of Denver is the dream of the west, and I believe that dream is still viable; I choose to see this time as one of transition rather than any end. I, like Councilman Paul Kashmann, with whom I speak frequently, am an optimist. But, as he said in a recent conversation, if he had to buy a home today, he would find himself—a Denver city councilman, mind you—priced out.
I say the previous words without anger or resentment. I am grateful to Denver for all it has given us. But I am sad at what I believe the city has become: a place where building equity through home ownership is more and more a dream than a possibility, a place where commutes grow longer by the day and a place where essential services for those in need have long been strained beyond effectiveness. What right do I have to speak to our social services net here in Denver? My wife is a case manager working with brain injury survivors transitioning out of the regional jail population, and, before I was an editor I was a counselor at South and West High Schools working with at-risk youth...
But I digress. The dream of Denver is the dream of the west, and I believe that dream is still viable; I choose to see this time as one of transition rather than any end. I, like Councilman Paul Kashmann, with whom I speak frequently, am an optimist. But, as he said in a recent conversation, if he had to buy a home today, he would find himself—a Denver city councilman, mind you—priced out. Most of the writers with whom I have been privileged to work these past years were long ago priced out. And they both write and have day jobs… And, many of them are those elusive Colorado natives one hears of but rarely meets.
Friends I am not bitter, but I am sad. And, I am a touch scared for the future of this great country. But, I remain hopeful. Returning my focus to Denver, I can say with certainty we’ll always have the mountains, even if they can’t be seen from Kansas. We’ll always have the potential the mountains represent; they’ll always inspire. Maybe Denver will build up to effect affordability, maybe it will eventually build the best public transit system in these United States... Who knows: maybe Denver and Colorado will figure out how to tax at a rate that pays for essential and very much needed infrastructure and services. We can always aspire. And I will always say we. And, I believe Colorado is an aspirational state, which returns me to hope. This is why I hope.
We all came here hoping. My wife and I are leaving this great city and state not only with that hope in tow, we leave bettered. We have grown; we have “been grown”; we have been given opportunities. I wish you all further opportunity and growth. I hope you continue to be good to the newcomers. I wish you all, readers, all the very best. Sincerely.