Saturday, July 21, 2012

From Anacostia to Aurora: An Unexpected Escape

I had enough of DC. I was sick of the heat. I was frustrated with my cubicle and the mounting paperwork. I couldn't take another story about a stray bullet hitting an innocent bystander in Southeast DC. So I planned an escape from the grime and crime of Washington, D.C to the beautiful mountains of Denver, Colorado!
Rocky Mountain High
Colorado State Flag
 I coincidentally booked a hotel in Aurora, 15 minutes away from the Denver Airport. I exchanged light conversations about the weather and bragged about the best hiking and biking in the state. 

Hello Denver 
Denver Capitol Building
Denver's quiet downtown showed a few signs of homelessness but more signs of hipsters. The smiling faces, happy families and the cool dry air prompted me to tell my friends, "I am moving out of  DC and into Denver. Things are safe here and the people are happy."  This is exactly the escape I was looking for! 
City O City diner! A Hipster Haven in Denver

Art and murals drape Denver's trendy neighborhoods.

 Then the news strikes, "Massacre in Aurora". I thought it was a misprint. Aurora is where I just saw a family eating a picnic in the grass. Aurora is a regular town. Aurora is not the "crime-ridden" Anacostia from which I just left! Chilling, shook and in a state of disbelief,  I drove up I-70 towards Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Scenic Mountain Bike Ride
 Up in the mountains, we are far far away from the depressing news of another gunman terrorizing  unsuspecting victims. We try to enjoy ourselves with a scenic bike ride through the Vail Pass.
Colorado by Bike
Silent, uninterrupted peace
Trees, mountains and silence

The many creeks of Colorado
But there is a quiet undertone of sadness. While Colorado is a great escape, there is a haunting message that I can't ignore.  There is no such thing as an escape, no such thing as an exclusively safe place. Violence anywhere affects people everywhere.
Families in Aurora, Colorado are no different than families in Anacostia!
I now return to my beloved Anacostia with a different perspective on our community, our people and our potential. I romanticized getting away. I imagined that life out there was better than life here. My unexpected escape taught me that senseless violence does not exist only for the black and poor. From Anacostia, to Aurora, violence in America is an indicator that we are all connected. What happens in an urban ghetto can also happen in any suburban enclave.

Where is the love?
For more on Colorado Tourism
Eats- City O City
Bike- Vail, CO
Resorts- Breckenridge

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