October 8, 2021 | LIFE | By Kristen Richards | Photo by Aida Hasson

The physical distance between the places we are and where we wish to be is often too far. By definition, physical distance is the variances in space, time, and environment. If I drew a line showing the physical distance from me, in Colorado, to my friends in Texas and Virginia and my family in Massachusetts, I would be lost in a mountain of scribbles. 

But the mental distance does not have to be so far. In order to bridge this mental gap, we can do things like writing a letter, sending a picture, or simply thinking “wow, I really love this person.”

I-25 is my current line of distance, yet it is also the transition between intertwining beauty and painful work. 

Each morning, I drive the sixty miles from Colorado Springs to Denver along I-25. Half of myself lives in Montgomery House while the other half resides along the white blazes of this craggy highway. I have not yet found the solace in these miles, only longing. 

After struggling with an eating disorder my first year at Colorado College, I dedicated this past summer to recovery and chose to attend a partial hospitalization program in Denver. The summer in treatment spun into a fading autumn of work still left to be done. I suddenly found myself in September with my body in Denver but my head in the Springs.

I think that sometimes we spend too long in one place wishing we were in another. I-25 helps me bridge the chasm between the two places I must be. I take with me from one place what I need to be fully present in the other place. I leave behind what is futile and meant to be forgotten. 

I leave the empty mailroom in Worner, where I am reminded of all the people I long to get to know. I will meet them, but not today. I leave behind the clicking of a closing door and the fear that it will never open again. I am sure that another opportunity will come, and it will open. 

I take with me the way the sunlight peeks out from the mountains just to hide behind Cutler, and the deep brown of my girlfriend’s eyes. If I drive north and listen to our favorite song on repeat, I can shorten the mental distance between us.

The distance from Monument to Castle Rock never ends. The highway expands outward in a land of no one and nothing. Each mile of this part of the drive shows me the beauty and pressure of openness.

“Be open,” the fields call out. “Find something in me.” It is here where I see how the physical distance has the potential to diminish the mental distance.

There are small things along my drive that remind me of those I wish to be close to. There is my favorite exit name – Happy Canyon Rd – and the sign pointing to Colorado College when I am driving south that reminds me that I almost home. “Hello!” I call out to Pikes Peak. “I am thinking of you.”

Not everyone will experience the daily commute from Colorado Springs to Denver, but I hope what I’ve learned can still be useful to you. It is not about the place that we leave or arrive at, but how we shift our thoughts and feelings mentally so that the physical distance does not hurt so much.

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