Place Where You Live:

North Park, Colorado

Junkyard to the east.

I live in a junkyard.  Not one used for commerce or recycling, or anything else quite so noble.  It’s simply a mass of parts and pieces left over from former lives of service, surrounded by chunks of manufactured goods not allowed at the local landfill (not free of charge, at any rate), like car batteries, concrete and tires.

It’s a junkyard without containment.  There’s no chain link fence to imply treasures within, to prevent theft of valuables.  No privacy fence paid for with conservation district grants eager to disappear the uncomely aspects of rural life.  At best, it’s a mass of rusted hope waiting for future—if doubtful—need, while the drip, drip, drip of its chemical residue sinks into the ground beneath it.

Fanning out from the junkyard is a vast Colorado mountain park surrounded by 12,000-foot peaks.  North Park.  The Zirkels to the west, the Rewahs and Never Summers to the east, Spicer Peak to the south and Medicine Bow to the north. 

I look through the junkyard I can’t touch because I don’t own it, and beyond to an aggressively fracked oil well half a mile away.  But when I spin around, they fade from view to be replaced by land and sky so rich and wild I’m amazed at the good fortune that brought me here.

I live in a junkyard because a bad breakup left me homeless, a lost job left me broke, and because I share my life with llamas, goats, sheep, horse, dog, cat, and a pigeon.  Our basic needs sometimes feel desperate.

Twenty years ago, North Park helped me negotiate grief.  It was natural for me to turn to it again when it seemed as if this time, I’d lost everything.

On days when the junkyard and oil well threaten to swallow me whole, I make myself turn.  I face the other side of North Park, and remember that I live in this particular place because the people who own it and the breathtaking, fertile land around it, invited me without hesitation when I had nowhere else to go.