Last year, Taylor Lennox Irwin graduated from college, packed all of her things into a trailer, drove from Pittsburgh to Durango, and married her college boyfriend – in the span of a week. Flaxen-haired and fiery, Taylor speaks with her hands and in bold italics. I tell her story here, in her own words.
We did [the drive] in two days, which is a terrible idea. We left Pittsburgh at 4 o’clock in the morning. My – well, now she’s my mother-in-law – was driving their family’s truck and pulling a trailer, my dad and I were in my car, and my now- husband, Dillon, was driving his car. We did 16 hours of driving the first day and finally stopped in Topeka, Kansas, which is pretty much hell on earth. It was hot and humid, but everyone kept telling me how worth it Colorado was going to be. I sort of wanted to throw up.
We made it to Colorado the next day. What’s that town where 160 and I-25 meet? Walsenburg. There’s a Carl’s Jr. in Walsenburg and everyone was hungry, so we stopped. Meanwhile, the temperature’s been climbing and eastern Colorado is just Kansas 2.0, and everyone’s still telling me how great Durango was going to be, and I just lost it in the Carl’s Jr. parking lot. I was sobbing and trying to figure out why I had packed all of my things into this trailer and told this boy that I would move to Colorado with him and marry him. Of course, Dillon is Dillon, [adopts a dopey, bass voice] “I think it’ll be fine. I think it’ll be fine.” And I was just so upset with myself. How did I follow this fool to this place. I’m in a Carl’s Jr. parking lot for God’s sake! What the hell is this?!” Fried zucchini sticks at a fast food restaurant should never happen! I was a hot mess. I think I cried until the Wolf Creek overlook. Monte Vista and Del Norte passed by without my noticing them because I was just crying and certain that I was going to throw up all over the place. I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know why I’m here. This is terrible.” My dad is driving and is about as good at emotions as my husband was when he was five years old. Dillon’s not good at emotions now. My dad was just saying, “You’ve been independent for a while now. You know what you’re doing.” And I was just like, “Do I? Do I?”
That was the feeling for quite some time. Even as we pulled in to Durango. “Oh my God! I’m homeless! All of my things are in the trailer in front of me – and I’m not even driving it! [My mother-in-law] could just drive away with all of my earthly possessions!” And then – this is the clincher – we moved into my in-laws house in Durango. What have I done?!
We were getting married five days later. We left Pittsburgh on July 31st, we got to Durango August 1st, and then we got married August 7th. I saw the wedding venue for the second time ever and I met my DJ for the first time on the 6th, and then a day later, I got married. And then we were living here. Yep. In Durango. A place I’d never been. Ever. Dillon convinced me that this was all a good idea. In retrospect, I don’t know why anyone let me do this. I literally stayed at my in-laws house – with my in-laws – for the four days before my mom flew in for the wedding. Then I stayed with her in her hotel room while all of my things were packed in boxes just sort of strewn about.
That said, being married, and having to make all new friends – because I literally left everyone that I knew, besides Dillon, behind, I’ve had to become, unapologetically, myself. That is, I have to be who I am and think what I think. I’ve had to become really OK with that. I’m 23 and married. Most 23-year-olds I know here in town think that’s insane. I’m married and not a hermit, and a lot of my married friends think that’s insane. And then my job – I’ve had three jobs since I’ve moved here – and the first two were learning experiences that forced me to consider who I wanted to be, how I wanted to be treated, and what I think that I’m worth. Moving to Colorado, and having that crazy journey that’s plopped me down here of all places, kinda forced me to reckon with that. It’s easy when you know everyone around you, to be the thing that everyone else thinks you are. “Oh, well she’s from this family, so she’s this thing,” or “Oh, she has this job or this hobby, so she’s this thing.” But I’ve had to choose who I’m going to be. I’ve had to say, “No, this is who I’m going to be. I’m this sort of person who does this kind of thing this way.” So that’s been good.
Cyle Talley recently visited East Jesus Nowhere, New Hampshire. It was nice there. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.