I think I have officially become a Coloradan. After living in Colorado for almost 15 years, I checked what to me is important "Citizen of the Centennial State" box — I purchased a Subaru. As I left Heuberger Subaru — the largest Subaru dealership in North America, naturally — it felt like I was doing more than just buying a car. This was a rite of passage. The experience got me thinking, what else might define someone as being a proud inhabitant of the 38th state?
Undoubtedly, beer factors in. More specifically, frequently consuming and appreciating local craft beer. I was quick to learn this is a huge part of the Coloradan identity — and something I have enthusiastically connected with.
I arrived Colorado nearly two decades ago, ribbed about British beer. "It's bitter, it's boring, and it's served room temperature!" my new neighbors said. My counter, "Yeah, well, American beers are over-carbonated, weaker than Sprite, and served at a temperature so cold as to crack teeth!"
I knew I was right, but then again so were they. And then I tasted Colorado beer, PROPER locally crafted, native Colorado-crafted beer, and found a VERY happy middle ground. Now, whether it’s Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout, Pikes Peak Brewing's Little London Ale, or Odell Brewing's Cutthroat Porter, I'll argue that Colorado’s local nectar rivals anything Britain produces.
I lived in Colorado for 9 years before leaving again briefly. Upon returning, I realized that there was something else required for me to become truly vested in this state. Being a sports guy and coming from a country where your team is your tribe, I needed to become a fan of one of Colorado's pro teams. The decision to do so was in absolutely no way grounded in logic; which was exactly why I had to make it. The Bronco’s were an easy pick (World Champs, anyone?), and then a professional soccer team conveniently showed up in my backyard, so signing on as a Colorado Springs Switchbacks fan was a no-brainer. Today I wear these teams colors proudly and sincerely share in both organizations sporting glory and pain.
I've also realized that pride in the Colorado state flag is to be displayed front and center. T-shirts, baseball caps, scarves, car accessories and other items too myriad to list all benefit from being emblazoned with our beautiful state colors. I didn't own a single flag-associated item when I first came here, now I own more items than I can count. I even redesigned my men's soccer team badge to incorporate the Colorado 'C' (@3lionsfc) such is my new-found passion.
Colorado truly feels like home to me now. I do miss certain things about England, of course, but this near-perfect slice of the American West has embraced me, and I it. Others will, I'm sure, have their own ideas as to what some of the defining characteristics are of a Coloradan, native or transplanted. I can say with assuredness, though, after a few weeks of driving around in my new, Colorado flag-emblazoned acquisition, owning a Subaru is a pretty good start.
Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 16 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett, or listened to on the Whistle Stop Week (@WSWShow), a news comedy podcast he hosts.