Apr 062005
Authors: Kelly Hagenah

Happy sigh … spring is finally beginning to make an appearance. Flowers are blooming, warm weather keeps teasing us, we have sprung forward an hour, baseball season has begun and naturally – love is in the air. I, like many other saps, am in love, for I am having a love affair with the city that has been my home for the last four years.

Yes. It's true. I am in love with Fort Collins, and it is one relationship I know I'll never regret. While some believe, with good reason, that "it's not where you are, but who you are with that really matters," I am also a strong believer that the places we go (physically not theoretically) and live in have just as strong of an impact on us. I really do think that we not only establish a part of our identity by the physical places in our lives, but that we also develop relationships with these places.

OK, maybe these relationships aren't exactly exciting to discuss. But the thing is, our relationships with the places in which we live, visit and dream of one day going to are actually just like any other romantic relationship we experience. It's an interesting way to look at these experiences, and it is something I've been thinking about a lot as I pack up and prepare to move on (sob!) from my relationship with Fort Collins.

As I said, the relationships we develop with these certain places are a lot like our romances and can pretty much be narrowed down to three types: the fling, the fantasy and the more serious committed relationship. Our vacations are like flings, always exciting but never too in-depth, and our "one-day-I'll-go-there" destinations are similar to our fantasies – all the more tempting the longer they don't happen. It is the places in which we live that are like the relationships we commit to, and these relationships, no matter how long we invest in them, almost always have a lasting effect on our lives.

Our relationship with a place starts, of course, with a crush. When all you can think about is how every aspect of it seems perfect, and you can't wait until it is a part of your life. And while you may get nervous thinking about what could happen if it worked out, you find yourself daydreaming about it happening all the time. Then it does. The move has been made, and now it's a reality. Aside from the pure excitement of this new development, you also begin to get to know it better every day and therefore begin to discover the other side – the real side.

These initial moments of getting-to-know-you can be surprisingly great and sometimes even disappointing or shocking. When I first moved to Fort Collins I had known very little about it aside from my first impression as I developed a crush.

However, as I became more acquainted with the city, I began to gain a better understanding of all its great characteristics, as well as the things that needed improvements.

But then, before we know it, if things are going well, we become comfortable with the new relationship and find ourselves learning to deal with its imperfections and love it as it is. As our love for this significant other grows more every day, we find ourselves thinking about the future, maybe even getting involved with the politics of our significant other. We begin to find out if we really want this relationship to become a part of who we are. Eventually, as with most relationships, it becomes clear if it is for the long or short haul and changes are made. We either commit and buy some property, or we decide that sadly it really is time to move on.

But to move on without nostalgia or with regret would be wrong. Because no matter how real, long or good a relationship was, it was a part of your life and is a part of who you are, and we should forever be grateful. So, Fort Collins, believe me when I say it's not you, it's me. It is time I move on, but not without thanking you for being my home for four amazing years. May you fill the hearts of many college students to come, and may you forever remain in a place in my heart.

Kelly Hagenah is a senior speech communication major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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